Pennsylvanians getting mixed messages about medical marijuana program

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Health Department has not yet released a list of physicians approved to participate in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, but some groups are claiming they can help patients now.

“We have already seen unscrupulous physicians making representations that they can make a medical cannabis recommendation despite the fact that the program doesn’t even exist yet,” said Patrick Nightingale, a Pittsburgh attorney who specializes in the medical marijuana law.

The website of a Philadelphia doctor claims to have “Pennsylvania’s easiest medical marijuana card approvals; hassle-free, fast and confident.” ABC27 called the listed number. We were told a first consultation is $200.

A Las Vegas company’s website offers to book a doctor visit for $190 to “create a relationship with a medical provider.” It’s not clear whether patients are connected to a doctor in Pennsylvania or another state.

Nightingale says websites like these can be misleading.

“To take money from a critically ill Pennsylvania patient under the misrepresentation that they need to consult with a physician prior to receiving the medical cannabis recommendation is wrong,” he said.

“Our residents should know that there is no way to be pre-approved for the program,” Acting Health Secretary and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine said.

And the law does not require patients have a consultation with a doctor now.

“The best source of information about the medical marijuana program for Pennsylvania is actually the Pennsylvania Department of Health,” Levine said.

The law also prohibits physicians from advertising that they are medical marijuana providers.

“Pennsylvania patients have got to look at these people with a great degree of caution,” Nightingale said.

Approved doctors are completing the necessary training. When the names of providers are released, they will be posted on the state medical marijuana website, medicalmarijuana.pa.gov.

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