Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Laws a Mine Field for Physicians
One question physicians should ask themselves is: What civil and criminal penalties may I incur in the event I prescribe Marijuana? Neither Maryland’s inept and corrupt Medical Board nor its self-serving Medical Society have issued any statements concerning potential penalties. House Bill 881 signed by Governor Martin O’Malley in April of 2014 required the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and its Marijuana Commission to derive regulations governing the dispensing of medical Marijuana. Recently directives have been released concerning physician involvement in procuring Marijuana for potential patients. Physician liability was not addressed by these rules or prior statue. Worse, Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 substance along with Heroin, LSD and other potential abusive drugs. Under federal rules prescribing Marijuana is a felony unless given prior dispensation by authorities. In recent times federal prosecutors have turned away from charging physicians with Marijuana law incursions if their respective states legalized it. This could change at a moment’s notice. Maryland physicians who become involved in accommodating patients seeking “medical Marijuana” run many risks for few rewards.
Physicians will have to move through multi levels of paperwork to be allowed the privilege to certify individuals to obtain “medical Marijuana.” An unrestricted active medical license and a spotless record of compliance with state regulatory structure is a must. Being politically well connected, similar to those chosen to be dispensers of this drug, would not hurt either. Physicians contemplating being listed for medical Marijuana certification should review all available literature issued by state authorities with particular emphasis on any statements by the Attorney General’s Office and the Medical Board.
Maryland Board of Physicians has a habit of inventing rules and standards care after the fact. Never proactive this Board cherry picks which sections of its legal Title it will follow depending upon who is before it. With a lawyer as the Executive head of this administrative entity expectations were the Board would have created guidelines for implementing House Bill 881, since it had 3 years. Without protections from civil and criminal penalties lawyers will have a literal field day prosecuting cases. Worse incorrectly certifying a patient or a patient who crashes a vehicle, with this Schedule One drug in his or her system, the physician’s liability may be substantial. Point is prescribing Marijuana could be entrapment for physicians.
Lastly does malpractice insurance cover prescribing of Schedule One drugs and the resulting detriment this drug could cause to a patient? Approximately 23 states have legalized Marijuana in some form or manner. Each state manages the legalities and judicial responses to this psycho active drug differently. Maryland’s Board of Physicians is not managed as it should. Control has been given over to lawyers with minimal input from physicians. The unpredictability of this Board’s actions, lacking specific written guidelines and standards for physician involvement with this highly potent drug, may not be worth the risk for health care providers.
The author of this article cautions physicians to be wary of signing on to prescribing Marijuana until such time as the civil and criminal liabilities have been “totally clarified.” Maryland’s Board of Physicians and its attack dog the Attorney General’s Office will quickly blame doctors, not themselves, for prescribing mishaps related to Marijuana, even though they have promulgated no rules as of this writing. In the event you want to learn how corrupt your medical board is read a few of the articles at: medicalboardusa.com.
Mark Davis MD