Many doctors steering clear of Virginia’s medical marijuana program

Many doctors steering clear of Virginia’s medical marijuana program
While patient interest has been high, so far most doctors are steering clear of the program and major medical groups are treading with caution.

When Ailment Wellness Medical Center in Fredericksburg began advertising itself last year as a place patients could see a “medical marijuana doctor,” staff members say the phone started ringing and didn’t stop.

“We actually had to have Verizon come in and install two more lines,” says office manager Missy Miles. “Our system started dropping calls and wasn’t able to handle the volume.”

But while patient interest has been high, so far most doctors are steering clear of the program and major medical groups are treading with caution.

Some, like Bon Secours Medical Group, are flat out prohibiting their physicians from recommending or certifying patients for medical marijuana, a spokeswoman said.

Others are placing strict limits on when and how their staff can recommend marijuana as a treatment. Sentara Health System will only let neurologists sign up to treat patients with intractable seizures and the University of Virginia Health System only support its use in clinical trials.

And others, including Carilion Clinic, Riverside Health System and VCU Health, say they’re still trying to figure out what to do and are waiting for more guidance, from the state Board of Pharmacy or through their own physician workgroups.