Pubdate: Sun, 07 Aug 2016
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)
Copyright: 2016 Las Vegas Review-Journal


Nevadans will pass judgment in November on state Question 2, which 
would essentially legalize pot for recreational use among adults. As 
the election nears, it's worth noting that many doctors in states 
that allow the drug's use for medical purposes remain wary of 
recommending it to their patients.

"The hesitance reflects persistent concerns about the possible legal 
repercussions for their medical licenses if they prescribe a drug the 
federal government classifies as dangerous," the Boston Globe 
reported last month. "It also underscores the lingering doubts about 
marijuana's health risks and benefits."

Indeed, even as many states liberalize their marijuana laws, the 
substance remains a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances 
Act. The Obama administration in 2013 put the reins on federal 
prosecutors who might be tempted to go after physicians who recommend 
pot to patients in states that allow medical marijuana. But the 
future of that directive depends upon the next administration.

Meanwhile, the website Medscape highlights that the American Medical 
Association has opposed the push toward legalization and issued a 
policy statement arguing that, "The patchwork of state-based systems 
that have been established for 'medical marijuana' is woefully 
inadequate in establishing even rudimentary safeguards that normally 
would be applied to the appropriate clinical use of psychoactive substances."

The Boston Globe report noted how the medical marijuana industry in 
Massachusetts depends on a handful of doctors. Of the state's nearly 
32,000 medical marijuana patients, the paper found, nearly 
three-quarter had received certification for the drug from one of 
just 13 physicians.

Officials at the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health 
refused to release statistics on individual doctors and medical 
marijuana referrals. But a spokeswoman said last week that during 
July, 435 different Nevada physicians cleared at least one patient 
for marijuana use. As of July 31, division statistics reveal there 
are 20,773 Nevadans holding valid medical pot cards, up a whopping 43 
percent from the end of January.

The fact that referrals tend to cluster among a small number of 
doctors indicates many physicians remain unconvinced that making 
marijuana more accessible offers any real public health advantages. 
That should give pause to those on the fence over the issue of 
full-blown legalization.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom