As regular readers of this blog may recall, I recently posted an article entitled “Can the Medical Director of an Arizona Medical Marijuana Dispensary also Write Certifications for Qualifying Patients?  Good Question.”  Well, I spoke with Don Herrington, Asst. Director of ADHS, today and. according to him, the answer is NO.

At issue was the changed language of R9-17-313.E in the final rules which seemed to indicate that a medical director could write certifications for qualifying patients as long as the patient did not obtain the marijuana from the dispensary with which the director was associated:

“A medical director for a dispensary shall not provide a written certification for medical marijuana for a qualifying patient obtaining medical marijuana from the dispensary.”

While Mr. Herrington acknowledged that the wording in the foregoing rule might well be interpreted to allow medical directors to write certifications, he informed me that it was still DHS’s intention that medical directors not do so for any patients no matter which dispensary they used.  Apparently DHS is concerned about a conflict of interest occurring, the logic of which escapes me.  He said that DHS may publish a clarification of the rule before the end of the year.

Mr. Herrington did add that physicians who eventually become dispensary medical directors may write certifications up until the time when their medical directorship becomes active, which is presumably when the dispensary opens its doors for business.

In my opinion, this rule is unfair to both medical directors and their patients.  Medical directorships are part time positions, and many, if not most, medical directors are also involved in direct patient care.  This rule, as interpreted by DHS, deprives medical directors who are also clinicians from writing certifications for their patients who have conditions which may benefit from medical marijuana.  It would also require the patients of medical directors in private practice who qualify for medical marijuana to go elsewhere for written certifications.

Jason E. Gittman, MD, FCCP

[email protected]