New Law Places More Scrutiny On Medical Marijuana

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Photo: Medical marijuana

Doctors who recommend medical marijuana in Colorado will probably be facing more scrutiny soon. Gov. John Hickenlooper recently signed a law requiring a state medical board to establish further guidelines for physicians who approve the use of medical marijuana.

A group of about two dozen doctors is responsible for the vast majority of the state's more than 100,000 medical marijuana recommendations. In many cases, these doctors are treating patients outside of their medical specialty. That's not necessarily a red flag, says Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer for the state health department, but such recommendations might now prompt a deeper look from the medical board.

Ryan Warner spoke with Wolk, who is with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

On the risk of the board "judging" the pain of patients

"I think to do those folks justice, they would like as much objective and evidence-based care provided to them as allowed. We're fortunate from the pain patients' perspective, to have the legalized retail marijuana available. It doesn't necessarily have to be used for recreational use. I consider it over-the-counter. You don't need to go to a physician if you want to just access over-the-counter, recreational, retail -- whatever you want to call it -- marijuana to, in essence, self-medicate."

On whether this law is about increasing revenue from recreational marijuana taxes

"There is no money motivation here at all. This is really about ensuring appropriate recommendations, as stated through the state constitution."