Background: The most fundamental aspect of medical cannabis laws is the relationship between a patient and their physician. It is often only the physician and the patient that possess information about a patient’s health condition. However, many public officials and others who oppose medical cannabis laws often make assumptions about people’s health. The media have even fomented such inappropriate assumptions by naming a category of patients “Young Able Bodied Males,” condemning certain patients by visual assessment alone.

Findings: The health care information discussed between a patient and physician is considered private and protected under federal HIPAA laws. It is typically the purview of state medical boards to assess whether a physician has inappropriately recommended cannabis to someone who should not be qualified. Studies have shown in some medical cannabis states that the majority of patients suffer from chronic pain, an ailment that is not obviously detectable by another person. Nevertheless, police will often harass and arrest patients based on the assumption that someone is faking their illness.

Position: Medical professionals should have an unrestricted ability to recommend cannabis therapeutics and that should not be impacted by law enforcement’s perceptions.