Montana's medical board wants to curb the practice of mass screenings and remote doctor teleconferences to certify new medical marijuana patients in a state where the number of registered users has boomed from 800 to 12,000 in about two years. A Montana Board of Medical Examiners review suggests people are being added to the state's medical marijuana registry who do not suffer from the chronic and debilitating conditions that are required for certification, Dr. Dean Center, a Bozeman physician and board member, told state lawmakers Tuesday. "As everyone knows, the number of people being certified has just exploded," Center said. "The entrepreneurial spirit has taken hold." Under scrutiny are clinics hosted by medical marijuana advocates that travel across the state with doctors who spend just a few minutes screening hundreds of potential patients. Then there are out-of-state physicians involved in medical marijuana screenings, sometimes using teleconferences or videoconferences to diagnose patients as having a qualifying condition. T h e a d v o c a c y g r o u p Montana Caregivers Network hosted a round of clinics earlier this year and is gearing up for an 11-city tour of its "Cannabis Conventions" next month. The group's website also advertises "TeleClinic Statewide Daily Appointments" that says: "Visit the Doctor from anywhere! Got a computer? You can visit the doctor, online, and get your green card. Doctors are available all day long, every day!" The medical board is preparing a position statement on adequate evaluation and monitoring of patients with chronic and debilitating illnesses. The statement that "will likely affect the process of mass screenings and may preclude remote electronic method of evaluation without some sort of modification or adjustment," Center said. Center also said complaints against physicians who sign medical marijuana recommendations will be treated the same as those against doctors prescribing other forms of care, even though the language used in the medical marijuana law is different. Doctors "evaluate and certify" medical marijuana patients instead of the normal "diagnosing and prescribing." He did not detail the changes the statement would make nor did he say when they would become effective. Calls to the medical examiners board were not returned on Tuesday.
Montana aims to curb mass medical pot screenings
Published: Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
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