Pa. asks for doctors’ input on medical marijuana regulations

     In this Tuesday, March 28, 2017 photo, Meagan Holt holds a vial of cannabis oil she uses to comfort her daughter Maddie, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, after they attended a hearing at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., for House Bill 1060, which would allow parents or guardians to administer medical marijuana to children while at school or on a school bus. Maddie has a terminal genetic disease called Zellweger Syndrome, and used to have hour-long seizures, but Holt says that Maddie has found relief after treatment with cannabis oil and other pharmaceuticals. (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo)

    In this Tuesday, March 28, 2017 photo, Meagan Holt holds a vial of cannabis oil she uses to comfort her daughter Maddie, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, after they attended a hearing at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., for House Bill 1060, which would allow parents or guardians to administer medical marijuana to children while at school or on a school bus. Maddie has a terminal genetic disease called Zellweger Syndrome, and used to have hour-long seizures, but Holt says that Maddie has found relief after treatment with cannabis oil and other pharmaceuticals. (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo)

    Are you a doctor willing to prescribe medical marijuana in Pennsylvania?

    If so, state officials are asking for your input on forthcoming regulations for Pennsylvania’s nascent medical pot program.

    Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has put out a blind survey to gauge doctors’ interest in participating in the program, as well as assess “if they see patients who have one of the 27 qualifying conditions and whether medical marijuana would be part of their treatment plan,” said April Hutcheson, press secretary for the department.

    Medical marijuana programs are already established in New Jersey and Delaware. So far, physicians across state lines have been reticent to endorse the practice in the region, according to Ken Wolski, head of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey and a registered nurse in Pennsylvania.

    “It’s kind of disappointing,” he said, noting that New Jersey has thousands of doctors but only 529 have signed up to recommend medical marijuana to patients in that state since the program’s inception, according to an annual report put out by the state. 

    At a hearing on medical marijuana in February 2015, a former head of the Pennsylvania Medical Society cautioned against “rushing too headlong” into legalizing medical marijuana. Following passage of the state’s bill, the Society asked the commonwealth to fund more research.

    “The majority of Pennsylvania doctors are not on board with legislation such as Senate Bill 3….physicians prefer thorough research before prescribing medications,” said Abington-based doctor and 2016 President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Scott Shapiro, according to a press release from 2016.

    Still, lawmakers in Pennsylvania pushed ahead with plans to get the state’s medical marijuana program up and running in 2018.

    Hutcheson said the state’s survey will help mold forthcoming regulations related to physician participation.

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