As of May 20th, 2011, the day this article is being written, there are a myriad of choices for patients to choose from, when it comes to choosing a clinic to get their Medical Marijuana Authorization in Washington State. Below are TWO places where patients should avoid getting their authorizations.
1. Dispensaries, or any place that produces or grows medicinal cannabis.
This almost seems like common sense, but many dispensaries (which are illegal anyway) are providing authorizations by contracting a doctor to work for them during specific days and hours.
Why should this be avoided? For one, many dispensaries are beginning to turn down authorizations that were obtained through dispensaries. Secondly, there is current legislature that will soon make this kind of activity (providing authorizations in a dispensary environment) illegal. Here is an excerpt from Senate Bill 5073 (currently in Washington State Senate as of May 20th, 2011):
[Lines 11-13, Page 11] "A health care professional shall not [...] Examine or offer to examine a patient for purposes of diagnosing a terminal or debilitating medical condition at a location where cannabis is produced, processed, or dispensed;"
While this is not current law, it is still important to avoid dealing with dispensaries (illegal). Dispensaries are unlikely to verify you as a patient, because they don't file or store any medical records or patient files, or don't have the medical infrastructure or staff that would be able to provide that service. While the doctor that was contracted to serve you may be able to file your record and verify for you, it is unlikely they will, or at least a risk is there.
2. "Clinics" that exist for the sole purpose of handing out authorizations.
This can be difficult to gauge. But, a good test is to see if the doctor you see for your medical marijuana evaluation, could also see you for other medical issues, like a flu, a cold, or any other ailment. Please check your doctor's credentials; are they an MD? Are they licensed? Anyone can throw on a robe and run an operation out of a rented office space. It is important to check if their practice is legitimate.
Moreover, these clinics will soon be phased out as well. Another excerpt from Senate Bill 5073:
[Lines 14-15, Page 11] "A health care professional shall not [...] Have a business or practice which consists solely of authorizing the medical use of cannabis;"
Conclusion: Why should we avoid these clinics NOW?
These "operations" if you will, are not working in the patient's interest. How can we tell? Well, they clearly are not monitoring state legislature and the changing laws. If they are not monitoring them now, what indicates they will monitor them later? Are they actively ensuring their compliance to legislature now and preparing themselves for the coming changes which are a little over a year away?
Are they actively consulting with patients and answering questions about the law they might have? Or are they happily going along and profiting while they can? A good way to gauge a clinic, is if they are compliant to SB5073 NOW. Are they still offering multi-year or lifetime authorizations? Are their doctors also providing alternative packages or options to medicinal cannabis? That is also a future change in law that will be a requirement.
Who should I choose?
Currently, our clinic in Redmond, WA is one of few clinics that operates in strict compliance with SB5073. In fact, we encourage all patients to try our alternative plans for treatment. We also only provide 1-year or less authorizations, and also enforce recurring visits throughout the year. We also establish care with our patients and become their primary care providers, to ensure their safety for future changing legislature.
To become a patient, visit our website today: http://www.medical-marijuana-washington.com/
Link to SB5073: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5073
Written by Newman Edwards.