|Photo: World of Work|
More medical professionals will be allowed to authorize the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients under a measure signed into law by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire.
Washington’s newest improvement on the medical marijuana program expands the number of health care providers who are legally allowed to recommend medical marijuana to patients.
Gregoire signed the bill Thursday, and it will take effect June 10, reports The Associated Press.
Under previous law, only physicians were authorized to write a recommendation for medical marijuana.
The new measure adds physician assistants, naturopaths, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and osteopathic physician assistants to the list of those who can officially recommend cannabis for patients under Washington’s medical marijuana law.
This important improvement on Washington’s medical marijuana law, sponsored by state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), recognizes that all four of the above mentioned health care professionals are entrusted with the responsibility of prescribing controlled substances if and when their patients need them, according to legislative analyst Robert J. Capecchi of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
“Allowing responsible health care professionals to also recommend medical marijuana — a substance far safer and less addictive than many Schedule II opiates — simply makes sense,” Capecchi said.
“Furthermore, many patients, especially those in rural areas, have limited access to physicians, so they receive their health care from other professionals, such as advanced practice registered nurses,” Capecchi said. “With this important change, access to a physician will no longer be a prerequisite to obtaining a medical marijuana recommendation.”
“It is always a good day when legislators and executives listen to logic and reason and pass sensible marijuana policy,” Capecchi said.
“With this bill we honor our state’s commitment to relieving some pain and suffering for thousands of Washingtonians,” said Sen. Kohl-Welles, primary sponsor for the legislation, SB 5798.
During the next legislative session, Kohl-Welles plans to do more work on medical marijuana issues, reports Geeky Swedes on local blog Queen Anne View.
“Most unfortunately, this small protection is not enough,” Kohl-Welles said. “In the last month we have seen attacks on medical marijuana patients and providers. Next session, I will build on this year’s progress by working to provide full legal protection for medical marijuana patients and designated providers who work within the law.”
“Kudos for this new law can be directed at bill sponsor Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and the 85 dues-paying members of the Cannabis Defense Coalition, who worked to promote this low-profile legislation,” said CDC spokesman Ben Livingston.
You can read the entire text of SB 5796 as it was signed into law by Gov. Gregoire here (PDF).