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Starting October 1, dispensaries may be able to sell some recreational marijuana products to people without Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) cards (a bill to allow just that passed the House|Senate|is awaiting the Governor's signature). But some dispensary staffers are encouraging recreational users to get medical cards anyway, arguing that with a 20 percent sales tax, going medical will be a better deal in the long run.
To that end, 5th LMNT dispensary recently hosted a "pot doc" who saw patients seeking an OMMP card on site. It's not uncommon for doctors to specialize in seeing patients seeking medical marijuana recommendations. The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, for example, has offices across the country and in Bend, dedicated to helping people gain access to medicinal marijuana.
"It isn't something that we approve or disapprove," says Steve Wagner, who oversees the OMMP. "[Physicians] still have to be serving as that person's primary attending physician for the condition that the person is being treated for."
Wagner says that these "pot docs" are required to submit additional documentation to the state if they see more than 450 patients in a year, and most of the recommending doctors fall into that category.
"We have not seen that shift yet [to regular doctors]," Wagner explains. "I think culturally attitudes and how that physician interaction occurs will change."
He noted that large health systems—particularly those that are federally-funded—may prohibit their doctors from recommending medical marijuana and "that may drive patients to a limited pool of physicians."
Locally, neither Mosaic Medical nor Volunteers in Medicine make recommendations for medicinal marijuana, due to being federally funded. At St. Charles, cancer doctors have recommended cannabis to their patients, says St. Charles Media Coordinator Lisa Goodman. She adds that she's not clear on the official policy, but says there's no blanket ban.
At Bend Memorial Clinic, physicians are permitted to recommend medical marijuana, but they are not required to.
"It is an individual decision," explains Katy Wooderson, marketing director for BMC. "For those that would recommend medical marijuana it would be the same process as recommending any other medication. The providers use their professional judgment and it is a patient-by-patient decision on what is best for that specific patient's medical needs and condition."