In April 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) released its proposal for temporary regulations for physicians who elect to participate in the state's Medical Marijuana Program. Physicians were invited to submit any comments or concerns through April 20, 2017.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) has reviewed the proposed regulations to identify issues that may be of concern to physicians. On April 19, PAMED President Charles Cutler, MD, MACP sent a letter to DOH with PAMED's comments and questions, including the following:
- Privacy concerns—The proposed temporary regulations would require practitioners who participate in the Medical Marijuana Program to provide certain contact information, including professional email addresses. However, the Medical Marijuana Act limits what information is to be provided by practitioners. Given the limitations in the Act and privacy concerns, PAMED is requesting clarification on why this additional information is required.
- Delegation to other practitioners—The proposed temporary regulations would allow physicians to defer recommending the form of medical marijuana to patients and instead allow a physician or pharmacist at a medical marijuana dispensary to determine the form of medical marijuana to be dispensed to the patient. PAMED is concerned that the Act does not provide for this type of delegation, and the regulations do not take into account what happens when a patient sends a caregiver in his or her place to obtain the medical marijuana. PAMED is also concerned about how this process will work in situations where a physician assistant or certified registered nurse practitioner is authorized to be present at a dispensary in lieu of a physician or pharmacist.
- Limitations on changing the form of medical marijuana—The proposed temporary regulations require a practitioner to notify DOH when it modifies the form of medical marijuana within a 30-day period. PAMED is requesting clarification on why this requirement was put in the regulations and how this requirement will work if a practitioner defers the determination of the form of medical marijuana to the physician or pharmacist working at the dispensary.
- Immunity—The letter requests clarification on immunity from suit and licensure sanctions for any practitioner that decides to withdraw the issuance of a patient certification for medical marijuana.
- Training requirements—PAMED is seeking more information on the requirements for approved training courses that practitioners must complete to participate in the Medical Marijuana Program, including who is allowed to provide this training.
DOH will review all of the comments it receives in order to decide what changes, if any, to make before the regulations are formally published and take effect.
Once the temporary medical marijuana regulations for practitioners are formally published, PAMED will notify members via the Dose email newsletter.