Bill filed to fix confusion over Oklahoma medical marijuana recommendations
Oklahoma City — Hundreds of patients who submitted their medical marijuana paperwork will have to find other physicians to fill out their recommendation forms because their doctors hadn't completed extra training.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority announced last week that about 450 patients would need to resubmit their physician recommendation forms. All recommendations must come from a board-certified physician, and about 2 percent of the more 28,000 patients whose licenses were approved didn't meet that requirement, according to the authority.
Affected patients have to resubmit the form by Feb. 4 to avoid losing their licenses. The authority won't charge them another application fee, but they likely will have to pay another physician for an appointment to make the recommendation.
“We are hopeful that patients will be able to work with their recommending physician to easily resolve the issue,” OMMA Director Adrienne Rollins said in a news release. “Moving forward, we will continue to ensure that physician recommendations are compliant with state law when issuing patient licenses.”
A bill filed ahead of the Oklahoma Legislature's 2019 session would eliminate any extra requirements for physicians. Senate Bill 162 would allow any doctor licensed and in good standing with the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision or the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners to recommend medical marijuana.
A doctor who is board certified has completed extra training in a specific field and agrees to meet best practices developed by national boards for each specialty, ranging from anesthesiology to urology, said Jennifer Dennis-Smith, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Medical Association.
The medical association hasn't taken a position on SB 162, but will keep an eye on it if the bill moves forward, Dennis-Smith said. The doctors' trade group would support changes requiring follow-up visits for patients using medical marijuana, mandating training on marijuana for those that recommend it and adding a clearer definition of a “bona fide” doctor-patient relationship, she said.
“OSMA is certainly supportive of efforts to create a clearer understanding of Oklahoma's Medical Marijuana program and we urge the legislature to take a comprehensive look at the state's regulatory groundwork and incorporate changes that will protect public health,” she said in an email.
Frank Grove, founder of Oklahomans for Cannabis, said the board certification requirement has been one of the “biggest hurdles” to implementing State Question 788, which legalized medical marijuana in June.
“Removing the board certification requirement will eliminate a great deal of confusion and increase access to patients as more physicians will be authorized to recommend,” he said. “This is a good change for everyone.”
The phrase “Oklahoma Board certified” in SQ 788 caused some of the confusion. Some of the questions' backers have stated they only meant that a doctor must be licensed with an Oklahoma medical board — the minimum qualification to practice in the state.
Chip Paul, chairman of Oklahomans for Health, said supporters wanted to include all doctors in good standing, as well as chiropractors.
“We wanted to make that broad,” he said.