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Medical Cannabis, Pain Management, and the Law

Discussion in 'Social Security, Disability & Health' started by rajastrums, Aug 7, 2022.

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  1. rajastrums

    rajastrums Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Virginia
    Hi.
    I am not sure this is the proper forum for my question but it seems correct.

    I live in Virginia. I have suffered with chronic pain for 20 years. I have a lpain management doctor. He is of course an MD. He and I have been together for about 10 years. We have worked out a fairly effective pain management program using opioids. In 10 years we have tried many other drugs but opioids are the only ones that work. I have taken the same amount of opioids for 20 years. Other than using cannabis recreationally in the 1970s I have never used drugs. I do not drink alcohol. IOW I have no drug problem.

    I would like to try medical cannabis. Many people say it works remarkably well for them. Much better than opioids. Medical cannabis is legal in Virginia but my doctor HATES marijuana. He says it is a "gateway (?)" drug. We have discussed cannabis and he absolutely refuses to consider it for me. In fact he says if he tests me and finds THC in my system he will stop treating me. I do need some type of effective pain management and as I mentioned opioids are fairly effective.

    Can my doctor legally stop treating me if I am using a medicine that the state says is legal? Wouldn't he be violating the law by refusing to treat me? We have medical cannabis dispensaries in Virginia. I can get certified by a doctor or nurse practitioner to use cannabis bought at these dispensaries.

    If I challenged him in court what would be the likely outcome?

    Thank you for any and all light you can shed on this.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    A physician doesn't need a reason to refuse to treat you, anymore than do you to stop seeing him or her.

    Just as marriages can end in divorce, so can business, and/or medical relationships.

    You'd spend oodles of your money funding a futile effort.

    You certainly can have your very expensive day in some court somewhere, but it'll cost you far more than you'd ever gain.

    Besides being an attorney, I'm also a licensed DO (osteopathic physician).
    Curiously, DOs comprise fewer than 12% of the practicing physicians in the US.

    What is a DO?

    I refuse to prescribe whacky weed in any of it's many forms.

    I don't practice medicine much these days, but do volunteer work for our local free clinic once a month. I don't know what possesses so many people to believe the wonders of whacky weed, but frankly, I don't care.
     
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  3. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    Your doctor has no legal obligation to prescribe something for you that he does not believe is appropriate, legal or not.

    You are free to find another doctor who will prescribe for you what you have decided you need.
     
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  4. rajastrums

    rajastrums Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you.
     
  5. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Yes. If he believes that the particular drug at issue would be contrary to proper treatment of your condition he may certainly stop treating you. Note that while the state says it is legal, use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law. That problem makes some doctors reluctant to recommend or prescribe marijuana for patients.

    No. In general a doctor has no obligation to treat anyone other than providing care to save the life of the patient. The doctor cannot illegally discriminate in who he treats, like providing care for White patients but refusing to treat Black patients.

    While it makes some doctors uncomfortable, others don't worry about their pain patients using weed to help with pain. My pain doctor has no problem with it since I have a condition that has long been recognized to benefit from marijuana and it is legal in my state. That said, I still don't use it because the other pain therapies he recommends work reasonably well and my insurance covers that 100%. The insurance would not pay a penny for weed, even as a medical use.

    So ask around at other pain relief providers and find one that's ok with marijuana if that's what you feel you need for your pain.


    Just from the information you provided here, I think the likely outcome would be that the court would dismiss your complaint.
     
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  6. rajastrums

    rajastrums Law Topic Starter New Member

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    You have said he "has no legal obligation to prescribe something for you that he does not believe is appropriate, legal or not."

    Yes but can he legally stop treating me because I am following a legal treatment plan that has been prescribed by another health-care provider?
     
  7. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Yes, absolutely, 100% yes.

    (Understand now?)
     
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  8. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    Yes. The only time he is legally required to treat you is if you are CURRENTLY in a life-or-death situation where his withholding care might result in your death. If you are not engaged in the act of dying, he is not obligated to treat you.
     
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  9. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that's legal. And many doctors do just that. Quite a few doctors don't like patients who shop doctors and get treatment somewhere that might conflict with the treatment regime the doctor has set up for you.

    In the U.S. a medical practice is a business much like any other. While more tightly regulated in some respects than other businesses, the general rule that a business may refuse to serve anyone as long as that refusal is not based on illegal discrimination (e.g. because of your race, national origin, sex, etc) applies to doctors too. The main exception to this, as I noted before, is in situations in which the patient's life is at risk or there is a risk of serious disability if the patient does not get prompt attention. In those situations, of course, you'd seek out the help of a hospital emergency room and they would have treat you at least enough to stabilize you.
     
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  10. rajastrums

    rajastrums Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you all for sharing your knowledge. I will proceed carefully.
     

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