Marijuana meds: Should docs have pot-prescribing freedom? Other states say no

December 14th, 2012 by admin Leave a reply »

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AUGUSTA, Maine — The new Maine Legislature likely will consider a bill that would free patients seeking medical marijuana from the requirement that they be diagnosed with at least one of a list of “debilitating medical conditions” defined in the law.

Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, plans to submit the legislation, the latest proposed modification to the medical marijuana law first approved by Maine voters in 1999. If the bill passes, Maine will become the first state to leave discretion for recommending medical marijuana exclusively to physicians.

Advocates for the change contend that giving physicians greater latitude in determining whether patients would benefit from using medical marijuana, regardless of whether their diagnosis fits the specific criteria now set in the law, would extend protections to Mainers who want to comply with the law and ensure that doctors and patients, not lawmakers and bureaucrats, control treatment decisions.

“Right now patients who could benefit from protections of the law are either forced to go into the black market or be less than honest with their doctor about other qualifying conditions,” said Alysia Melnick of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

A key element of the change would be to allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana for behavioral and mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by veterans returning from war and others who have experienced trauma.

The Maine Medical Association opposes the proposed changes, according to Gordon Smith, the association’s

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