CONNECTICUT: Doctors are signing up on a daily basis to be certified for prescribing medical marijuana under the state’s new law. Patients are signing up too, but they may have to investigate a little to find a doctor because the state is not planning to release its list of marijuana-certified physicians.
As of last month, 94 physicians had registered with the state to issue marijuana eligibility certificates to patients, and 766 patients had filed certifications from doctors, the first step in receiving a medical marijuana identification card to legally purchase and use weed.
While strong interest was expected following passage of the medical marijuana law last year, some are wondering if Connecticut’s new system will become rife with abuse and if questionable patients will troll for doctors willing to schedule an exam and issue eligibility certifications in exchange for a fee.
Websites are already advertising “marijuana doctors” willing to prescribe the weed for eligible ailments and some of those specialize in alternative or holistic approaches to health care. The sites link patients with doctors registered to prescribe marijuana.
“There is always a possibility that a medication can be given liberally and too collectively,” said Carolyn Drazinic, a psychiatrist with the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, who also questions whether proof has been established that marijuana offers medical benefits.
“Marijuana is widely used in the general population today,” Drazinic said. “This is possibly a slippery slope toward legalization.”
Medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states — Illinois recently adopted the law — and it’s become big business, with some national estimates as high as $1.5 billion in revenue annually and projections of $8 billion in four years.
Doctors generally charge a fee to examine patients seeking medical marijuana. Pot growers, those who make marijuana products and those running dispensaries could be in line for a windfall.
Connecticut’s marijuana farmers are expected to be in business by early next year and dispensaries should be operating by mid-2014. Licensed pharmacists will run an as yet undetermined number of dispensaries.