Table 2.

Summary of Ethically Relevant Best Practices for Physicians Assisting Patients in Accessing Medical Marijuana

Summary of Professional Recommendations Regarding Medical Marijuana
Supporting Article or OrganizationRecommendations
AMA, National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, APA, AAFP, American College of Physicians4,15More research is needed on therapeutic value of cannabis.
AMA, APA, American Society of Addiction Medicine15,16Do not currently support the use of medical marijuana.
FSMB2Patient–physician relationship should be established and in place before making a recommendation for the patient
A documented, in-person medical evaluation must be obtained before a recommendation is made.
The physicians should discuss the risks and benefits of marijuana use, and the patient should be advised of the variability and lack of standardization of marijuana preparations.
A written treatment agreement should include a review of other measures attempted to ease the patient's symptoms and a specific duration for the authorization to obtain marijuana for a period no longer than 12 months.
Recommending marijuana for certain conditions is at the discretion of the physician but should be in accordance with the current standards of practice and in compliance with state laws.
The physician should regularly assess the patient's response to the use of marijuana and overall health and level of function. This assessment should include the efficacy of treatment, goals of treatment and progress toward achieving these goals.
Physician should consult or refer patients to pain management, psychiatric, addiction, or mental health specialist as needed.
Physician should keep accurate and complete medical records throughout the process.
Physicians who recommend marijuana should not be associated in any way with a dispensary or cultivation center.
Physicians should abstain of the use of marijuana (medical and recreational) while actively engaged in the practice of medicine.
  • AAFP, American Academy of Family Physicians; AMA, American Medical Association; APA, American Psychiatric Association; FSMB, Federation of State Medical Boards.