As of May 20th, 2011, the date this article is being written, patients have many options when selecting a clinic to obtain their Medical Marijuana Authorization in Washington State. The following are TWO locations where patients should avoid obtaining authorizations. What is the best way to Cannabis store?
1. Dispensaries or any location that manufactures or grows medicinal cannabis.
This almost seems obvious, but many dispensaries (which are illegal in the first place) provide authorizations by hiring a doctor to work for them during specific days and hours.
Why is this something that should be avoided? For one thing, many dispensaries are starting to reject authorizations obtained through dispensaries. Second, legislation will soon make this activity (providing authorizations in a dispensary setting) illegal. Here is an excerpt from Senate Bill 5073, which is currently being debated in the Washington State Senate as of May 20th, 2011:[Page 11, Lines 11-13] “A health care professional shall not […] Examine or offer to examine a patient in a location where cannabis is produced, processed, or dispensed to diagnose a terminal or debilitating medical condition.”
While this is not current legislation, it is still critical to avoid dealing with dispensaries (which are illegal). Dispensaries are unlikely to verify you as a patient because they do not file or store any medical records or patient files or need the medical infrastructure or staff to do so. While the doctor contracted to serve you may be able to file your record and verify it for you, it is unlikely, and there is a risk that they will not.
2. “Clinics” that exist solely to issue authorizations.
This must be challenging to predict. A good litmus test, however, is to see if the doctor you see for your medical marijuana evaluation can also see you for other medical issues, such as the flu, a cold, or any other ailment. Please check your doctor’s credentials; do they have a medical degree? Are they authorized? Anyone can wear a robe and run a business from a rented office space. It is critical to determine whether their practice is legal.
Furthermore, these clinics will be phased out shortly. Another section of Senate Bill 5073:[Page 11, lines 14-15] “A health care professional shall not […] conduct a business or practice based solely on authorizing the medical use of cannabis.”
Why should we avoid these clinics right now?
These “operations,” if you will, are not in the patient’s best interests. How do we know? They need to keep up with the state legislature and changing laws. What indicates that they will monitor them later if they are not? Are they actively ensuring legislative compliance now and preparing for the upcoming changes just over a year away?
Are they actively consulting with patients and answering any legal questions they may have? Or are they content to keep going and profiting while they can? A good litmus test for a clinic is whether or not they are SB5073 compliant RIGHT NOW. Are multi-year or lifetime authorizations still available? Are their doctors offering alternative packages or alternatives to medicinal cannabis? That is also a future legal change that will be required.
Whom should I pick?
Our Redmond, WA clinic is one of the few that strictly adheres to SB5073. We encourage all patients to try our alternative treatment plans. We also only provide authorizations for one year or less and enforce recurring visits throughout the year. We also establish care with our patients and become their primary care providers to ensure their safety in the face of future legislative changes.
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