Doctors Can Sign Up Patients For Medical Marijuana Registry

Now that the state has launched a medical marijuana registry, doctors throughout Georgia can sign up patients.               

Those who qualify to legally possess the oil need to have one of eight different medical conditions. Those conditions include: seizure disorders, some forms of cancer, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease and sickle cell anemia. The registry comes after the signing of HB 1 by Gov. Nathan Deal.

State senator and internal medicine doctor Ben Watson says he’s open to registering some of his patients. Watson pushed for the law during the past two legislative sessions.

“I do have a few sickle cell patients that are end stage and certainly very severe that could benefit from this,” says Watson.

One of the big questions is how doctors will decide which patients qualify. Watson says he doesn’t think it will too difficult for physicians to make determinations.

“It’s certainly clinical judgment,” says Watson. “Many times the illnesses, whether it’s Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or ALS, it’s sort of obvious whether it’s moderate to severe. And sickle cell disease specifically, how much pain medication are they using? Do they have advanced complications related to sickle cell disease?”

Watson also says patients will likely have to show an interest in being placed in the registry since the new law requires Georgia residents to get the cannabis oil from other states. That’s because growing and distributing marijuana remains illegal in Georgia.

In the meantime, the Medical Association of Georgia plans to make recommendations about the registry and Georgia’s newly passed medical marijuana law.

“We have a task force that’s been put together to look over as this issue continues to develop all of the practical aspects of how this will be impacted on the physicians,” says Donald Palmisano Jr., the executive director of the Medical Association of Georgia.

In a statement, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta says, “We have been educating physicians since the law was signed to inform them that the decision to register is between the physician and the patient.” Several other hospitals declined to comment.  

State health officials say doctors are the only ones who can put patients in the registry and the decision to place them there is up to their discretion.