Medical Marijuana Registry Data Shows Cause for Concern

This document came from the The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Offices Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 CONTACT Mark Salley Director, Office of Communications 303-692-2013 Medical Marijuana Registry Data Shows Cause for Concern DENVER The latest data from the Medical Marijuana Registry maintained by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows, that as of Dec. 15, a total of 820 licensed physicians had authorized medical marijuana for 15,800 patients. Of those 820 physicians, just 15 accounted for 73 percent of total patients, and just five have authorized 49 percent of all recommendations. These figures are representative of the concerns we have about whether some physicians really have a bona fide physician-patient relationship, as required in the constitution, with those for whom they are authorizing the use of marijuana, said Chief Medical Officer Ned Calonge. Working with the governor’s office, we have crafted statutory language changes that would, among other things, clarify what constitutes a bona fide physician-patient relationship. The department is asking legislators crafting medical marijuana-related bills to include the following provisions to help address issues of fraud and abuse: * Define a bona fide physician-patient relationship that includes an on-going relationship, a complete assessment of a patients medical history and follow-up care. * Ensure a physician recommending medical marijuana is in good standing and has not had his/her federal Drug Enforcement Administration registration revoked or suspended. * Prohibit physicians from receiving remuneration from a primary care giver or dispensary. On average, the 805 physicians with the lowest number of medical marijuana authorizations have approved just over five patients per doctor, while the 15 physicians with the most authorizations for medical marijuana have approved an average of 760 patients per doctor. These dramatic differences raise concerns about the medical care being provided to these patients. According to Calonge, this latest data is all the more reason to make statutory language changes that will better ensure that the appropriate patients are participating in the medical marijuana program, with assessment and treatment that meet the medical standard of care in the community and assures the health outcomes intended by those voting in favor of the original constitutional amendment. Many of these requirements parallel federal laws designed to provide protection from economic conflicts of interest that may arise when a physician stands to benefit directly from the sale of a medication or service that he or she prescribes, said Calonge. The latest estimate from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is that approximately 29,000 to 30,000 individuals now have submitted the necessary applications to be included on the states medical marijuana registry. An exact count is not available at this time due to the high volume of mailed applications being received by the registry each day. See original document at