“No Such Thing” as an Approved Protocol for Medical Marijuana Use

October 5, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Regarding medical and recreational marijuana, the tension between federal law and state laws—or decisions not to enforce laws—leaves organizations with many more questions than answers in crafting their processes on the issue, said Andrew C.S. Efaw, JD, of Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell, LLP, and Jennifer Disner, JD, vice president, Western Litigation, Inc., on September 27, 2016, at the annual conference of the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management in Orlando, Florida. Predicting that within the next decade medical marijuana will be legal in every state and recreational use legal in most states, Efaw emphasized that the "landscape is brand new." But because marijuana remains a schedule I drug, meaning that it has no recognized medical use, organizations and providers cannot prescribe or provide it (they can only recommend it) and researchers cannot even investigate its potential effectiveness despite widespread reported public acceptance. Similarly, organizations cannot stock it or add it to their formularies. Doing so would risk not only scrutiny from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration but potential penalties from payers, including exclusion from participation in Medicare.

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