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RECOMMENDING CANNABIS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Medical professionals recommending medical cannabis must be a licensed physician in good standing to practice medicine or osteopathy in the District of Columbia. Eligible practitioners include physicians, Naturopathic Physicians (ND) Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), physician assistants, and dentists. A physician may recommend the use of medical marijuana to a qualifying patient if the physician is in a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the qualifying patient, has completed a full assessment of the patient's medical history and current medical condition, including an in-person physical examination, performed not more than ninety (90) days prior to making the recommendation, and has resumed the responsibility for the ongoing care and treatment of the patient.
Recommendations for the use of medical marijuana must be based upon the physician's assessment of the qualifying patient's medical history, current medical condition, and a review of other approved medications and treatments that might provide the qualifying patient with relief from a qualifying medical condition or the side effects of a qualifying medical treatment. Recommending physicians cannot be the owner, director, officer, member, incorporator, agent, or employee of a Dispensary or Cultivation Center.
Healthcare practitioners recommending the use of medical cannabis shall maintain a record for each qualifying patient reflecting the evaluation and treatment of the patient and be kept for three (3) years after last seeing the patient or three (3) years after a minor patient reaches 18 years of age. The Adult Patient Application can be found here. The Minor Application Form can be found here.
Although District law used to limit which conditions a physician may recommend to be treated with the therapeutic use of marijuana, the D.C. Council has since lifted the restrictions, and has replaced the definition of "qualifying medical condition" to mean "any condition for which treatment with medical marijuana would be beneficial, as determined by the patient's physician.
D.C. DOH has also streamlined the paperwork process for physicians. Physicians may now request Electronic Recommendation Access Request Forms using this online order form.
Medical professionals have a legal right to recommend cannabis as a treatment in any state, as protected by the First Amendment. Established by a 2004 United States Supreme Court decision to uphold earlier federal court rulings that found doctors and their patients have a fundamental Constitutional right to freely discuss treatment options.
More resources for medical professionals can be found here.
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