Telemedicine (the digital diagnosis and treatment of patients) is revolutionizing medicine by linking patients and doctors while significantly reducing expenses for both parties. The efficacy of telemedicine has risen substantially in recent years thanks to developments in telecommunications. In such a fast-paced industry it can be difficult to keep up with its evolution, but we aim to ensure you stay on the bleeding edge of its advancements. Recently, the legalization of marijuana in numerous states has led telemedicine to offer patients an incredibly easy way to get medical marijuana.
Once upon a time, someone suffering from chronic illness such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, or Alzheimer’s could only find marijuana on the streets, and they’d be at risk of arrest just for possession. Now, anyone with an illness or disease that would be aided by the prescription of marijuana is legally free to obtain medical marijuana from many health practitioners around the country. This change in law provided people with access to government-regulated marijuana, where dosage and strains could be extremely accurately defined and prescribed, dependent on patient needs. It’s been a huge step forward for America, and a particularly huge step for medicine. Since the legalization of medical marijuana, the use of opioid painkillers and subsequent deaths from said painkillers has been significantly reduced.
However, a great many people suffering from chronic conditions are left so debilitated by their pain that traveling, or even leaving their houses, is out of the question. Until recently, an inability to get to the doctor would guarantee these people would not be prescribed medical marijuana. And so their pain would persist despite a known alleviator. Furthermore, there is still a climate of shame regarding the use of medical marijuana in some communities. This results in patients who are in dire need of a prescription forgoing one on the basis that they don’t want to be identified by someone they know going into a medical marijuana doctor’s office. They desire true anonymity.
To further progress things, telemedicine has begun to allow medical marijuana prescriptions to be granted via telecommunications, including through websites such as MMJRecs. Subsequently, patients with chronic illness do not have to go through the pain or discomfort of traveling long distances to get medical marijuana. This is particularly important in states with a geographically dispersed population. But currently, not all states allow a medical marijuana prescription through telemedicine. Also, it must be noted that in order to benefit from telemedicine of any kind, you must be considered far enough from a doctor that traveling for an in-person visit would be difficult. Each state has its own ideas when it comes to telemedicine and the law, so it’s best to check your state’s legislation to figure out whether you qualify. A local doctor may also be of help in understanding the relevant state-level laws.
An established doctor-patient relationship is a requirement in medical marijuana treatment. States do not want doctors blindly providing patients with medical marijuana without first building up a detailed idea of their medical history and subsequently identifying a likely diagnosis that will be aided by the use of marijuana. Telemedicine allows medical practitioners to develop a relationship with patients who are incapacitated from the comfort of the patient’s home. With medical marijuana now legal to be prescribed via telemedicine, doctors are better able to serve their patients in a timely manner.
California’s medical board is certainly at the forefront of advancements in laws relevant to both medical marijuana and telemedicine, and they had this to say: “The initial examination for the condition for which marijuana is being recommended must be an appropriate prior examination and meet the standard of care. Telehealth, in compliance with Business and Professions Code section 2290.5, is a tool in the practice of medicine and does not change the standard of care.”
It may be surprising to some to learn that California is the only state where an explicitly positive policy regarding the use of telemedicine in conjunction with medical marijuana prescription has been laid out. This provides Californian doctors the ability to recommend medical marijuana via telemedicine without fear of losing their license to practice medicine or being sued.
So it’s clear to see that telemedicine is greatly impacted by the legalization of marijuana. With the legalization of marijuana, or any other drug, comes far more complexity in the laws and practice of telemedicine. As medical practitioners attempt to grapple with new laws and currently undefined ones in this relatively new and incredibly exciting area, there is likely to be some hesitance to go all in on telemedicine for fear of legal retribution. But as time goes on, the impressive efficacy and cost-effectiveness of telemedicine will ensure that the laws surrounding it will get properly defined, and that more and more health practitioners will feel comfortable exploring the myriad benefits this young form of medicine provides.