Small group of doctors sign off on most medical marijuana

November 09, 2012

The Arizona Department of Health Services has issued its first annual report on the state’s medical marijuana program. The department’s director says he’s struck by the small number of doctors who have written a large percentage of the program’s certifications. 

The report shows that 24 doctors have signed nearly 80 percent of the approximately 30,000 medical marijuana certifications.

Will Humble, state Health Services Director, said he’s concerned about the number of patients who aren’t going to their primary care physicians to get approved.

"The vast majority of medical marijuana certifications were coming from physicians who were not primary care docs," Humble said. "[They] put out a shingle and are seeing potential medical marijuana patients all day long. That's not to say that if somebody's signing a thousand certifications a year for medical marijuana and is a naturopath, I'm not saying that they're not acting in their patient's best interests.”

Humble said his department has signed a contract with the state Board of Pharmacy to keep up to date on the frequently-certifying doctors.

Voters approved Arizona’s program in 2010, but its implementation has been delayed because of questions about how the policy fits with federal laws prohibiting marijuana legalization.

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