Physician FAQs

Common questions asked by Medical Professionals about Medicinal Marijuana

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What healthcare practitioners will be eligible to recommend medical marijuana?

Only physicians licensed to practice in the State of Illinois are allowed to recommend medical marijuana, although the Department of Health Commission has the option of including nurse practitioners based on patient need and access.

What Qualifications do I need to be a Certifying Physician?

A doctor of medicine or osteopathy who has current, valid license under the Medical Practice Act of 1987 and has a current valid controlled substances license under Article III of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act and DEA registration may recommend the use of medical cannabis to a qualifying patient if the physician:

  • Is in a bona-fide physician-patient relationship with the qualifying patient. The bona-fide physician-patient relationship may not be limited to a certification for the patient to use medical cannabis or a consultation simply for that purpose.
  • Complies with generally accepted standards of medical practice, the Medical Practice Act of 1987 and applicable State and federal rules specific to physician practice (e.g., HIPAA rules).
  • Has responsibility for the ongoing care and treatment of the qualifying patient’s debilitating condition, provided that the ongoing treatment and care shall not be limited to or for the primary purpose of certifying a debilitating medical condition or providing a consultation solely for that purpose.
  • Has completed an in-person full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, including a personal physical examination, not more than 90 days prior to making the certification for medical cannabis. The assessment of the qualifying patient’s current medical condition shall include, but not be limited to, symptoms, signs and diagnostic testing related to the debilitating medical condition.
  • Certifies that the qualifying patient is under the physician’s care, either for the qualifying patient’s primary care or for his or her debilitating medical condition.
  • Confirmsthat he or she completed an assessment for the qualifying patient’s medical history, including reviewing medical records from other treating physicians from the previous 12 months.
  • Explains the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of cannabis to the qualifying patients.

What are the restrictions of a Certifying Physician?

A certifying physician shall not:

  • Accept, solicit, or offer any form of remuneration from or to a qualifying patient, primary caregiver, cultivation center, or dispensing organization, including each principal officer, board member, agent, and employee; EXCEPT: The physician may accept payment from a qualifying patient for the fee associated with the personal physical examination required prior to issuing the written certification for the qualifying patient.
  • Offer a discount or any other item of value to a qualifying patient who uses or agrees to use a particular primary caregiver or dispensing organization to obtain medical cannabis.
  • Conduct a personal, in person, physical examination of a patient for purposes of diagnosing a debilitating medical condition at a location where medical cannabis is sold or distributed or at the address of a principal officer, agency, or employee or a medical cannabis organization.
  • Hold a direct or indirect economic interest in a cultivation center or dispensing organization if he or she recommends the use of medical cannabis to qualified patients or is in a partnership with a physician who recommends medical cannabis.
  • Serve on the board of directors or as an employee of a cultivation center or dispensing organization.
  • Refer qualifying patients to a cultivation center, a dispensing organization, or an individual who seeks to become a designated caregiver.
  • Advertise in a cultivation center or a dispensing organization.

What is my role in the application process?

To certify a patient, a physician is required to submit a
PHYSICIAN CERTIFICATION FORM to IDPH on behalf
of the eligible patient. In order to do this, a physician
must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. 1. Have a “bona-fide relationship” with a patient
  2. Have conducted an in-person examination of the
    patient within 90 days of submission
  3. Review the patient’s most recent 12 months of
    medical records
  4. Explain the risks and benefits of using cannabis to
    the patient. Patients are required to renew their
    registry identification cards yearly, so physicians
    must submit a new certification every year.

Am I writing a prescription for Medical Marijuana to patients?

It is important to note that physicians are not writing
a prescription for medical cannabis. Instead, they are
certifying to IDPH that:

  1. It is my professional opinion that the qualifying
    patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative
    benefit from the use of medical cannabis to treat
    or alleviate the patient’s debilitating medical
    condition or symptoms of the debilitating medical
    condition.
  2. The qualifying patient has the debilitating medical
    condition(s) specified in this certification.
  3. The patient is under my treatment for the
    debilitating condition(s) and/or their primary care.
  4. It is my professional opinion the potential benefits
    of the medical use of cannabis would likely
    outweigh the health risks for this patient.

This certification is required by state law.

How can medical cannabis help my patients?

Accumulated peer reviewed data indicates that cannabis has therapeutic values in alleviating symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting, appetite stimulation and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions. In 2013 Illinois followed the lead of Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont and others to become the 20th state to enact a medical cannabis program. Compared to other states, the Illinois program is more comprehensive and a highly regulated program.

States that allow patients access to medical cannabis have almost a 24% lower rate of opioid overdose deaths annually as compared to states that do not allow access to medical cannabis. Data shows there is a correlation between the enactment of medical cannabis laws and the decrease in opioid overdose deaths.

Will certifying patients affect my medical license?

When Illinois enacted the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (410 ILCS 130/) the General Assembly recognized the importance of protecting physicians and included an immunities provision.

A physician is not subject to arrest, prosecution, or
penalty in any manner for:

  • providing written certifications; or
  • stating their professional opinion that a patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of cannabis to treat or alleviate the patient’s debilitating medical condition or
    symptoms associated with the condition.

A professional licensing or disciplinary board may sanction a physician for:

  • issuing a written certification to a patient who is not under the physician’s care for a debilitating medical condition; or
  • failing to properly evaluate a patient’s medical condition or otherwise violating the standard of care for evaluating medical conditions.

It should be noted that no disciplinary board in states with medical cannabis programs, or the federal government have taken disciplinary action against a
physician, as long as that physician is in compliance with the state medical cannabis law.

Do you have any questions?

Give one of our licensed Pharmacists a call at 1-224-377-9734 or click Physican Request.

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