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Jul 20, 2015

Qualifying Patients and Prescriptions for Medical Marijuana

In a recent blog post, we took a quick look at Maine’s medical marijuana law, the Maine Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA). The MMMA provides, in detail, exactly how the state of Maine regulates medical marijuana. Because marijuana is a controlled substance that can lead to criminal drug charges, and because the MMMA dictates when it’s okay for people to use and have marijuana for medicinal purposes, knowing exactly how the MMMA works is important in order to stay on the right side of the law. Making a mistake can result in a costly trip to court that can end in criminal convictions.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what it means to be a “qualifying patient” under the MMMA, by focusing on how they can get a prescription from a doctor for medical marijuana.

Qualified patients are those who have been prescribed to possess and use a small amount of marijuana for medicinal purposes. There are two separate issues that this raises: Obtaining a prescription from a doctor, and possessing and using marijuana for medical reasons. Because each of these issues are complex in themselves, we’ll hold off talking about the second issue – actually having and using the marijuana – until a later blog post.

In order to get a prescription from a doctor to become a qualified patient under the MMMA, you need to have one of three medical issues. The first of these is a chronic medical condition that produces intractable pain, which has not responded to ordinary medical measures for more than six months. The second of these medical issues is one of the following medical conditions, which the MMMA has recognized as requiring medical marijuana treatment:

  • Cancer,
  • Glaucoma,
  • HIV,
  • AIDS,
  • Hepatitis C,
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),
  • Chrohn’s Disease,
  • Alzheimer’s Disease, or
  • Nail-Patella Syndrome.

The last of the three medical issues that can be used to get a medical marijuana prescription from a doctor are the following symptoms, caused by either a medical condition, or its treatment:

  • Cachexia,
  • Severe nausea,
  • Seizures, including those that come from epilepsy, or
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, such as those from multiple sclerosis.

If you have a medical condition that satisfies one of these three options, then you could get a prescription for medical marijuana from a physician. You can’t, however, get a prescription from just any physician that you find in the phone book or on Google. First, you need to establish a “physician-patient” relationship by getting a medical evaluation from the doctor, and setting up a treatment plan that includes regular, documented, check-ins. Bear in mind that doctors can get in trouble if they prescribe marijuana to a non-qualified patient, so they’ll be careful to make sure everything is set before writing a prescription.

Maine’s Medical Marijuana Act is a surprisingly complex law. If you need help to make sure you’re not violating it, call the law office of William T. Bly, at (207) 571-8146.

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