Who are the Pennsylvania doctors issuing medical marijuana cards?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Professional License Issues |

Under Pennsylvania law, as our readers know, marijuana is currently legal only for medicinal purposes. The law specifies 23 different conditions that qualify a person to receive a medical marijuana card. 

These cards can only be issued by physicians who are certified by the state Department of Health to do so. Close to 2,000 doctors throughout the state are legally allowed to issue medical marijuana cards. However, most of the cards are issued by just a small percentage of those doctors – sometimes in extremely large numbers. There’s no legal limit to how many cards they can authorize. 

Some have a history of disciplinary actions

A recent investigation by a Pittsburgh news outlet found that some of the doctors who have signed off on thousands of cards every year have previously had their medical licenses suspended by the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine – in some cases for violations involving prescribing drugs. However, the acting secretary of health says that doctors who are certified to issue medical marijuana cards go through a ”rigorous process that includes a review of their experience” to get approved. 

Advocates for legalizing marijuana have long said that these state medical marijuana programs are a “farce,” as one put it. The doctors who issue these cards often aren’t treating the people to whom they issue them. They simply provide a way to get around the laws that in states that still prohibit recreational marijuana. However, by charging up to $200 to authorize a card, it can be a way for doctors who no longer get a job because of previous disciplinary action to earn a living.

Are there risks to issuing medical marijuana cards?

If a doctor wants to, and is able to, get certified to authorize medical marijuana cards, it’s crucial to know the law as well as the potential risks to your license of doing so. The chances of being subject to a malpractice suit for enabling someone to legally access marijuana when they may have underlying conditions you don’t know about are relatively slim. 

However, if you’re still in the midst of a license suspension or other disciplinary action, authorizing cards (even if you were previously certified to do so) could put your license in even more jeopardy. It’s always wise to have legal guidance before participating in this program.