On Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released statistics, in a press release on their website that gave them pause for concern.
"As of Dec. 15, a total of 820 licensed physicians had authorized medical marijuana for 15,800 patients. Of those 820 physicians, just 15 accounted for 73 percent of total patients, and just five have authorized 49 percent of all recommendations."
"These figures are representative of the concerns we have about whether some physicians really have a bona fide physician-patient relationship, as required in the constitution, with those for whom they are authorizing the use of marijuana." said Chief Medical Officer Ned Calonge
The CDPHE and the Governor's office are recommending the following provisions for legislators:
• Define a bona fide physician-patient relationship that includes an on-going relationship, a complete assessment of a patients medical history and follow-up care.
• Ensure a physician recommending medical marijuana is in good standing and has not had his/her federal Drug Enforcement Administration registration revoked or suspended.
• Prohibit physicians from receiving remuneration from a primary care giver or dispensary.
Changes in statuary language are intended to ensure that only appropriate patients are participating in the Medical Marijuana program and to make sure that doctors are not engaged in a financial conflict of interest, while best serving their patient's medical needs.
The statutory language (dated Dec.14th) from the Governors Office of Legal Counsel is linked at the bottom of the news release.
It primarily focuses on defining a "Bona Fide physician-patient relationship" and spelling out appropriate physician decorum.
Colorado dispensaries that now have a "doctor day" or even a doctor "on staff" will need to change any arrangements that aren't in line with the new statuary language. Doctors will need to keep "separate records" from non-MMJ patients and perform follow-up with medical marijuana patients.
It would be ironic if, by the time the state and local municipalities react to each new aspect of this new industry, marijuana is legalized in much the same way as alcohol is now. A recent poll reveals that this idea may not be that far fetched, as 53% of respondents support the legalization of marijuana.