Why Cleveland Clinic prohibits staff physicians from prescribing medical marijuana

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Prominent health systems in Ohio are prohibiting staff physicians from prescribing medical marijuana, according to cleveland.com.

Here are five things to know:

1. Ohio state health officials have cleared roughly 300 physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients, with more being approved each month, the report states. Under state law, physicians with medical licenses in good standing are eligible to recommend the medication. However, physicians must have a bonafide relationship with the patient and have to have diagnosed or confirmed the diagnosis of one of the 21 state-approved conditions that may qualify the patient for medical cannabis.

2. Medical marijuana will be available at some locations across the state in December, while the majority is expected to be made available in 2019. Physicians must submit an application for their patients to become part of the medical marijuana and caregiver registry, which has not yet been activated. The registry will then send patients special e-cards that remain active for one year before requiring renewal by a physician.

3. Physicians are expected to discuss the medication thoroughly with their patients and can terminate the recommendation if the patient dies, no longer has the medical conditions requiring the drug, or if physicians suspect the patient is misusing the drug.

4. Most of the 300 physicians approved to prescribe the medication work in independent practices, as larger health systems statewide prohibit staff physicians from doing so. A spokesperson for the Cleveland Clinic told cleveland.com the health system's decision to prohibit its roughly 4,000 physicians from prescribing the drug stemmed from the FDA's lack of action on cannabis.

"Similar to other major physician associations, the Cleveland Clinic continues to stand by the [FDA's] approval process as the most effective way to ensure the safety, efficacy and purity of medications provided to patients across Ohio. Until the marijuana products receive regulatory approval, we will not be involved with the distribution of unapproved cannabis products through dispensaries," the spokesperson said.

5. Cleveland-based University Hospitals employs a similar approach and prohibits its roughly 3,900 providers from prescribing medical marijuana. The policy does not apply to private practice physicians with UH privileges; however, those physicians are not allowed to recommend the medication on any UH campus.

To access the full report, click here.

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