James Palinsad

WA Department of Health Does Not Support Specialty Clinics for Medical Cannabis

Officials from the Washington State Department of Health issued an email this morning over the state’s medical cannabis Listserv that will surely spell disappointment for medical cannabis patients around the state.

When the Washington legislature passed the Cannabis Protection Act during the 2015 legislative session, the Department of Health was tasked with developing recommendations regarding potential specialty clinics that would be authorized to dispense medical cannabis to patients so long as the health care professionals involved are certified as medical marijuana doctors by the state.

The official recommendation was announced this morning: “The department does not support establishing medical marijuana specialty clinics in Washington at this time.”

Officials listed the following reasons as their rationale:

  • Healthcare practitioners cannot legally prescribe or dispense Schedule I controlled substances and would potentially risk criminal prosecution, as well as civil and financial liability.
  • Injured patients may be left without an adequate remedy if malpractice does occur.
  • Further research using accepted scientific protocols is needed.
  • Significant changes to existing licensing laws for commercial marijuana would be needed. Without such changes, practitioners at specialty clinics would not be able to access the marijuana they would later dispense to patients, which could present issues with supply.

Instead, the department recommends that individual practitioners take it upon themselves to familiarize themselves with the potential risks and benefits of medical cannabis. The full report is available on the department’s website.

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