William J Stilling, BS Pharm, JD - Founding Partner, Stilling & Harrison, PLLC and Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy - talks to us about some of the legal issues related to the medical and recreational use of marijuana.
- Marijuana (in its raw form) is a schedule I substance under Federal Law. However, the US Congress has prohited the Department of Justice from using its funds to enforce Federal law superceding State laws related to marijuana.
- Medical marijuana is typically legal to use under State laws only in specific "use cases" or "qualifying conditions." Physicians and other prescribers can't legally prescribe marijuana because it would violate their DEA issued license but may "recommend" or "authorize" the use of marijuana.
- Healthcare instutitions need to consider the use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes by their patients and develop clear policies and procedures on how marijuana use will be accommodated in their facility.
- Pharmacists and pharmacies are subject to oversight by the board of pharmacy and most state boards require pharmacists to abide by Federal laws. Thus, pharmacists who use marijuana, even for "legal" therapeutic purposes, may be subject to sanctions and lose their license to practice.
- Employers may terminate a pharmacist or health professional for marijuana use because it is a violation of Federal law.
- The FDA is unlikely to approve marijuana (in its raw form) for medical indications because it can not be easily studied or standardized.
- The legal status of marijuana in the years to come will be significantly impacted by political and economic forces.