Considerations for Widespread Medical Marijuana Adoption
By Devin Partida, Editor-in-Chief, ReHack.com
With the majority of U.S. states permitting medical marijuana usage, institutions will need to adapt to sometimes vague regulations concerning management and administration quickly. Every facility, from dispensaries to hospitals, must carefully review state and federal regulations on top of business-specific guidelines.
Widespread adoption of medical marijuana will incite countless conversations on distribution and access, so what considerations must organizations make during this transitional period?
Marijuana Is a Schedule I Drug
Regardless of government and state medical legalization, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I drug, denoting a high likelihood of abuse and destructive properties. Despite its broad medical acceptance, it’s still in the same group as dangerous drugs like heroin. Therefore, that concerns hospital staff with the legal capability to administer the medication.
Though states have regulations, the federal government still prohibits marijuana prescriptions because they haven’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some approved medicines, such as Epidiolex, contain cannabinoids derived from cannabis plants. However, because it only contains cannabidiol (CBD) and not the whole plant, it’s permitted.
This concerns doctors that want to prescribe marijuana, as well as hospitals and practices that must drug test employees for Schedule I substances to secure funding and maintain positive reputations. Patients may question safety if they’re aware hospitals allow employees to use marijuana, even outside work. Regardless of state legality or decriminalization, this is a widespread practice that institutions will have to reevaluate as tensions increase.
Liability Concerns Multiply
Patients could raise liability concerns over hospital staff using marijuana outside work walls and employees will have to monitor patient consumption. Most people associate hospitals with drug-free and smoke-free environments. How will this change with widespread medical marijuana adoption, especially regarding younger patients? Nobody is sure yet.
As with any drug administration, professionals must practice care since exacerbating patient conditions with poor marijuana administration practices could have legal ramifications on the individual or hospital. Additionally, because the federal government has not blanketed medical marijuana legalization, it could pose issues if patients cross state lines. Criminal action is possible, but it’s not regulated similarly across the nation.
However, hospital staff can mitigate some concerns by verifying patient participation in medical marijuana verification and checking facility policies.
Liability is another concern of dispensaries that distribute medical marijuana. The question is how non-hospital institutions will translate regulations to different business types.
Employees May Have Concerns
One of the most vital concerns is the knowledge gap about marijuana. Some practitioners, especially older generations, didn’t have marijuana information in their medical curriculum — particularly for prescription use.
Educational systems will need to incorporate more comprehensive information about marijuana as a medical benefit, so those entering the profession can better understand its interactions with other pharmaceuticals and procedures. Therefore, some doctors feel uneasy discussing or recommending marijuana simply because they aren’t as familiar with it.
Additionally, employees will have concerns if they use it outside of work. Drug testing is a primary worry for aspiring employees and hospitals, but termination from consuming Schedule I drugs could result in messy unemployment benefits — or none at all.
Hospitals can refer to their regulations and local laws, but it’s yet another thing that remains vague yet vital to clarify.
The American Public Health Association seeks to unravel some of these uncertain complexities by researching and monitoring medical marijuana usage with similar frameworks they used to observe other legalized substances like alcohol and tobacco. These explorations should assist in dispelling public health concerns, perpetuating more consistent discourse for lawmakers.
Navigating Medical Marijuana Adoption
Ultimately, most of the confusion surrounding medical marijuana adoption defers to law-creating bodies. It’s essential to exercise caution during the transition, referring to the highest authorities before taking action. Evaluation committees and federal governments reign despite state and local statutes. In time, acceptance will push these conversations to higher priority, expediting standardization for usage, prescription and handling.