Medical marijuana regulations would scare off physicians [Letter]

Faculty at the prestigious Johns Hopkins School of Medicine conclude, in a letter responding to the July 25 article "Medical marijuana rules for doctors raise concerns" that requirements on physicians recommending marijuana for medical use are "not a burden" ("Physicians need periodic checkups in medical marijuana use," Aug. 1)

That might be true in an ideal world. However, imposing unnecessary hurdles for doctors, like mandatory registration and special training, will invariably chill physician participation in the Maryland medical marijuana program.

Of course doctors should educate themselves on the therapeutic effects of cannabis, a process that can only improve the health of their patients. However, many doctors are fearful of what the federal government might do to them. Although this fear is generally misplaced given physicians' right under the First Amendment to recommend cannabis to their patients, most doctors refuse to get involved. An even greater hurdle to doctor participation could be the requirement for doctors to specify the strain, dosage, and amount in their recommendation to patients.

That's why the Natalie M. La Prade Medical Marijuana Commission's proposed rules must relax requirements on physicians to better encourage participation. Even Del. Dan Morhaim, a physician and one of the lead proponents of the legislation passed earlier this year, opposed the proposed "barriers for physicians" and said the rules could deter participation.

Doctors are the backbone to any medical marijuana program, and we must do what we can to encourage, not discourage, their participation.

Gail Rand, Annapolis

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