Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection
Senator Rosalyn H. Baker, Chair
Senator Brian T. Taniguchi, Vice Chair
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Conference Room 229
415 South Beretania Street
Comments – HB2092 SD1 – Relating to Medical Marijuana
This bill attempts to fix a problematic provision in Act 178 that reads: The certifying physician shall be required to be the qualifying patient’s primary care physician. This provision will prevent many qualified patients from having access to medical cannabis because some insurance providers and doctors at the VA are prevented from recommending medical marijuana, and adding more specialties to the list of doctors that can recommend medical cannabis is helpful.
However, this bill includes a definition of “primary care physician” that says that a doctor must be “designated as a patient’s primary care physician by the patient’s insurance provider.” THIS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO GO INTO EFFECT! This would exclude anyone without insurance or with PPO insurance from the program entirely, and is an indefensibly arbitrary intrusion.
In greater depth:
Any doctor that determines that marijuana is what is best for their patient should be able to recommend it, and legislators should not get between doctors and their patients. This bill is a step in the right direction, but must be expanded to include all licensed doctors.
This provision also excludes many qualifying patients.
Currently, several groups of doctors including those at the VA and those at Kaiser, are unable to recommend medical marijuana because of organization-wide policies.
If this provision is not amended it may force some patients to decide between staying with a doctor that they know and trust, and a medicine that is safe and effective. There is no reason to put sick people in that position.
However, if this bill is passed unamended, it will make the problem much worse.
- Only HMO’s require patients to designate a primary care physician. If the provision in this bill passes, anyone without an HMO would be excluded from the medical marijuana program.
- This is entirely arbitrary. Medical marijuana is not covered by insurance. Why should a primary care physician in an HMO be considered more qualified to recommend marijuana than one outside of an HMO?
- This would unfairly discriminate against people based on the type of health insurance that they have. This is not a reasonable way for a medical program to operate.