A prominent Massachusetts physician who helps children access medical cannabis is set to retire, creating uncertainty for pediatric patients in the state, the Boston Business Journal reports. Dr. Eric Ruby, 73, is the primary physician for 54 pediatric patients enrolled in the medical cannabis program and his retirement means those patients will have to find an entirely new team of doctors to manage their care.
Ruby told the Journal that the physicians caring for the patient’s underlying condition “need to be certified” to recommend cannabis in order for them to maintain their qualified status. Under Massachusetts law, pediatric patients must get a program recommendation from two state-certified physicians.
“The doctors know their patients are taking this medication, so those doctors need to push the agenda that they should be able to take care of a medical need. … The whole reason to have medicinal cannabis is so it is clean, monitored, so we know it’s not impure. This is why my retirement puts it in crisis mode.” – Ruby to the Journal
The Cannabis Control Commission is considering program reforms that would increase the number of certified cannabis providers able to work with pediatric patients from 15 to 79. Currently, there are 12 physicians and three nurse practitioners registered with the state to recommend medical cannabis to children. The CCC proposal would allow eight oncologists, 22 neurologists, and 49 family care physicians to work with children, the report says.
For his services, Ruby charges $75 a visit, but one parent told the Journal that she has spoken to other physicians who charge $200 to $300 per visit with check-ins required every three to six months.
Maryalice Curley, a spokeswoman for the Cannabis Control Commission, said caregivers or patients with concerns about future program access “should consult with their certifying healthcare provider or active patient advocacy organizations in the Commonwealth about resources for pursuing recommendations for medical grade cannabis.”