As North Dakota inches closer to making medical marijuana available to residents, a number of proposals have been brought before the legislature in order to make it easier for patients to access the drug once it becomes available.
One of the most important proposals being considered seeks to include physician assistants among the medical professionals that can certify patients who need medical marijuana cards. The current law only permits advanced practice nurses and physicians to certify patients.
Adding physician assistants to this list would give patients a wider scope of professionals that they can contact for a recommendation.
Another major change that is proposed entails removing the requirement compelling doctors to assert that the patient being recommended will benefit from consuming medical cannabis. This certification requirement has been a major stumbling block in the way of patients who want a recommendation because doctors were uneasy about committing to the efficacy of a drug for a given health condition in the absence of sufficient research backing up the suitability of treating such a condition using medical marijuana.
If the change is adopted, doctors will only be required to state that medical cannabis may help the patient having a qualifying condition. It is hoped that more patients will be able to get recommendations once this change is made.
State statistics show that just about 100 patients had secured medical cannabis cards from October last year when applications started being received. This dismal number was largely due to the reluctance of doctors to certify patients based on the guidelines set in the law passed in 2016.
There is another proposal to include cannabis edibles among the different forms of cannabis that patients can access. This addition is likely to be a welcome one, especially for patients who are uneasy about smoking marijuana. Edibles are more discreet.
While lawmakers are considering proposals to expand the list of qualifying conditions, some advocates are campaigning for a different approach to this matter. They say that it is more sustainable to give the Department of Health the authority to add to the list of qualifying conditions as more research becomes available instead of having to amend the law whenever additional conditions need to be included on that list.
The call of the advocates seems reasonable, because it allows the list of qualifying conditions to grow continuously without the lengthy procedures of the legislative process.
All in all, it is good that the legislature is fine tuning the law so that the beneficiaries (patients) aren’t subjected to any avoidable inconveniences. Sunniva Inc. (CSE: SNN) (OTCQB: SNNVF) and Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX.V: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF) welcome these changes that will ease access to medical cannabis.
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