A recommendation (certification) consists of a doctor’s written statement that marijuana would be medically beneficial for the patient’s debilitating condition. It is not a marijuana prescription, as a prescription is legally defined as a written order to a licensed pharmacist to supply the drug. Marijuana prescriptions are impossible due to prescription drugs being subjected to extensive federal regulation.
This was the problem with Arizona’s initial 1996 approval, Prop 200. It was worded so as to require patients seeking marijuana to obtain two “prescriptions”. Because of that, the law was effectively dead.
Physicians who recommend marijuana medicinally are protected from federal prosecution so long as they don’t get involved with distribution or production. Thousands of doctors are recommending marijuana under state medical marijuana laws, and so far, no one has been punished by the federal government.
Patients may seek a certification from their general practitioner, however, he or she may not be willing to provide the recommendation. This could be based on fear of prosecution, or simply not knowing enough about it. If that happens, patients are legally within their right to receive a copy of their medical records and seek another doctor who is knowledgeable about medical marijuana.
States typically require recommendations come from a physician licensed to practice in that state. Arizona does this. Once the certification is obtained, the next step is to apply with the Arizona Department of Health Services for an Arizona Medical Marijuana ID Registry Card.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana ID card is good for one year from the date of production. Then a new certification will be necessary. A written certification includes:
The physician’s name, license number, address, telephone number and email address;
The qualifying patient’s name and date of birth;
A statement that the qualifying patient has a debilitating medical condition as defined by the Arizona Department of Health Services
An identification of one or more of the debilitating medical conditions in Arizona DHS statues as the qualifying patient’s specific debilitating medical condition;
A statement, initialed by the physician, that the physician:
The fix body group assumed primary responsibility for providing management and routine care of the patient’s debilitating medical condition after conducting a comprehensive medical history and physical examination, including a personal review of the patient’s medical record maintained by other treating physicians, that may include the patient’s reaction and response to conventional medical therapies.
A statement, initialed by the physician, that the physician reviewed all prescription and non-prescription medications and supplements that the qualifying patient is currently using for consideration of any potential drug interaction with medical marijuana;
A statement, initialed by the physician, that the physician has explained the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana to the qualifying patient;
A statement, initialed by the physician, that the physician plans to continue to assess the qualifying patient and the qualifying patient’s use of medical marijuana during the course of the physician-patient relationship;
A statement that, in the physician’s professional opinion, the qualifying patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana to treat or alleviate the qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition;
An attestation that the information provided in the written certification is true and correct; and
The physician’s signature and date the physician signed.