Doctors Certified To Recommend Patientsfor Medical Pot Find New Popularity

November 3, 2017 GMT

The phone at Dr. John Brady’s office in Luzerne constantly rang Thursday with callers seeking medical marijuana. A day earlier, the state released the names of the first crop of doctors certified to recommend patients for the state’s medical marijuana program set to launch next year. He was just one of five physicians in Luzerne County who have so far registered and took the required training. “The phone has been ringing off the wall,” Brady said Thursday around lunch time. “People are hounding me for medical marijuana.” Brady, who specializes in internal medicine, said the onslaught of calls was a surprise. He said he had yet to receive instructions on how to recommend medical marijuana for patients and thinks the state jumped the gun by releasing the names of certified doctors since the distribution of medical marijuana is still months away. He said he signed up for the program to treat his existing patients, mostly seniors, who suffer from chronic pain with an alternative to addictive opioid painkillers. Brady said he directed his staff to tell callers he’s not accepting new patients at this time. Brady said he had bad news for people thinking they’ll be able to get high off the “medication,” which only will be available in pills, liquids, and creams, not in leafy, smokeable forms. “The medical marijuana is not high in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), so you won’t get the effects you get from street marijuana,” Brady said. The office of Dr. Vithalbhai Dhaduk, a neurologist from Dickson City, might have fielded even more calls than some of the Luzerne County doctors. He was the only doctor in Lackawanna County on the initial medical marijuana certification list. While the office was flooded with calls, Dhaduk thinks getting the names of certified doctors in the public sphere as soon as possible was a good thing. “We have to go through the painful moments of a lot of phone calls, but I think it’s good for us to be prepared,” Dhaduk said. He said the “nuts and bolts” of the fledgling program are still be worked out. Dhaduk said he advised callers to first sign up for the program under the Department of Health’s Patient and Caregiver’s Registry available online. After that, a prospective patient could then seek a physician’s certification that they suffer from one of 17 serious medical conditions. They include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, cancer, Crohn’s disease, spinal cord damage, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, intractable seizures, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, and severe chronic pain. April Hutcheson, spokeswoman for the Department of Health, said 1,400 people signed up for the program within 24 hours. From there, the Department of Health will review the applications online and decide whether to issue someone a medical marijuana identification card. If a patient stops his or her treatment, the doctor must then go on the site and decertify them, she said. ID cards will start being sent out on Dec. 31 and the state plans to have medical marijuana available in dispensaries around the state by April or May, Hutcheson said. Contact the writer: bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2055; @cvbobkal on Twitter Doctors approved Luzerne County doctors approved to recommend medical marijuana as a treatment: • Dr. Richard Blum, Wilkes-Barre • Dr. John Brady, Luzerne • Dr. Matthew Kozicki, Nanticoke • Dr. Paul Tayoun, Hazleton • Dr. Robert Dompkosky, Fairview Twp. Lackawanna County doctor approved: • Dr. Vithalbhai Dhaduk, Dickson City Medical conditions 17 medical conditions for which medical marijuana will be prescribed: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Autism Cancer Crohn’s disease Spinal cord damage Epilepsy Glaucoma HIV/AIDS Huntington’s disease Inflammatory bowel disease Intractable seizures Multiple sclerosis Neuropathy Parkinson’s disease Post-traumatic stress disorder Sickle cell anemia Severe chronic pain Forms of medical marijuana to be distributed: Pills Oils Topical forms, including gels, creams or ointments Medically appropriate vaporization or nebulization units Liquid extracts