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Names of DC Medical Marijuana Doctors Will be Kept Under Lock and Key

DOH says the tight confidentiality is necessary, in part, to protect doctors from threats.

Capital City Care. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

We’ve written the sentence “DC medical marijuana dispensaries are about to open” too many times to go with that lead again until it actually happens, but the DC Department of Health did answer a related question Monday.

We were curious whether a list of doctors who are approved by DOH to write medical marijuana prescriptions would be released. Because, after all, where is a patient who doesn’t have a doctor in the program to go? We asked DOH and got this reply from Najma Roberts, the agency’s communications director, via e-mail, “there is a regulation that prevents us from providing the names of the physicians.” Therefore, consider the names to be under lock and key.

The actual regulation, 802.2, states: “The Department shall maintain a confidential record, which shall not be subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, of each recommending physician for the purpose monitoring compliance with the Act.” The relevant part there is protection from FOIA requests.

Roberts said security is the reason for the tight confidentiality: “In other states where the names of recommending physicians have been released, the physicians have received hostile threats and physicians have stopped recommending.” Another factor is the possibility of doctor self-promotion. “In other cases,” she said, “a recommending physician who has had his name exposed gets extra business from the free publicity.” The DC government doesn’t want to be in the position of having an impact on the “competitive position of a recommending doctor.”

We checked in, too, with one of the city’s licensed dispensaries, Capital City Care, which we visited back in March, when they thought they’d be open in mid-April. Scott Morgan of CCC said the delays have been due to the final stages of fulfilling licensing and regulation stipulations, with the last step—underway now—being the processing of request forms from doctors who want to prescribe medical marijuana. They have to be licensed in DC, practice in DC, and be approved by DOH.

Morgan said that “one of the number one issues” he hears from patients is how to find the names of doctors who will be in the program. “The doctor’s recommendation has to come from a doctor with whom the patient has an ongoing doctor-patient relationship,” he said in a phone interview. “If the doctor you know best isn’t yet comfortable with the program, and you’re really eager to get involved right away, what are you to do?” He isn’t sure a list of participating doctors is the answer, but it doesn’t matter anyway since that list won’t be available.

Morgan said CCC is up and ready to go, and one of the cultivation centers is “currently operational” and has “harvested medicine.” As for when they will begin dispensing medical marijuana, Morgan was optimistic, but with qualifiers. “Definitely could be next week,” he said, “Absolutely possible things will be opening next week.” Stay tuned.

  • Counselorchick

    Living in LA, this seems completely ridiculous. Harvested medicine need not be in quotes. It IS medicine. Here in LA, the doctors are under no threat. What is going on in the nations Capitol?

    Last year we were eating out late at The Hamilton and a large group of secret servicemen (with their significant others) came in, obviously having just gotten off work. They enjoyed quite a few alcoholic beverages and were having a great time. We talked with them a bit and they confirmed that they were in the secret service. (I thought I recognized one of them from the tunnel years ago on a tour). They were just letting off some steam, relaxing, enjoying the company of friends. We certainly felt save at 2am out and about in DC. ; )

    Alcohol is a far more dangerous "medicine" than cannabis. We also recently returned from a trip to Amsterdam. We have much to learn from our neighbors here on earth. One would think (hope) that the Capitol of a country was serving as the leader and mentor from which to obtain wisdom and modeling. Hope springs eternal.

    When my father was dying from stomach/esophageal cancer, with a feeding tube sticking out of his gut after a 12 hour surgery, cannabis was the only medicine that allowed him any relief from the fact he had only months to live and gave him an appetite to enjoy his 72nd birthday dinner before his death 2 weeks later.

    Get with it leaders of the USA - we may be the " land of fruits and nuts " but we are a hell of a lot safer and have more freedom that you (and your physicians), seem to have.

  • As Scott mentions, patient access to recommending physicians is a primary hurdle at the moment. As this network of qualifying individuals takes shape, so will the directory of participating physicians by which they can engage. Plenty still to do, but we are at a better point right now nonetheless.

    Mike Cuthriell
    Metropolitan Wellness Center - Capitol Hill Dispensary

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