Patients are Increasingly Discouraged about Access to Medical Marijuana

Patients who have been waiting for years to walk into a medical marijuana dispensary fully certified are getting more and more discouraged.

A marijuana shop brought hope to these North Dakotans. Green Health Docs is an out-of-state business that put up shop here for a short time.

It was a small practice with licensed physicians who supposedly, can get you certified for medical marijuana.

We saw Facebook posts and took phone calls from North Dakotans who have gone through Green Health Docs. We’ve yet to find someone who was approved.

KX News first saw a social media post about Green Health Docs on March 26th. They were located in downtown Bismarck, in the Logan building.

The Secretary of State’s Office says they first filed as a business on April 18th, and the application was still pending. By the end of April, the company packed up and moved away.

Several patients spent the last 250 dollars in their pockets, in hopes of finding the medicine they’ve been waiting for.

We spoke with an anonymous North Dakota patient who received this letter from the Department of Health. It says she was not approved for medical marijuana because she had yet to establish a bonafide relationship with her doctor.

She sent a letter back, saying she believes she did establish a relationship with the Green Health Doctor.

Republican Senator Judy Lee explains, “There should be a connection between a provider, whether it’s a nurse practitioner or a medical doctor, whoever the appropriate providers are, and the patient.”

Jason Wahl is the Director of the Medical Marijuana Division within the Department of Health.

He breaks down a ‘bonafide relationship’ under the law, “The health care provider has to create and maintain medical records of that patient. They need to do an in-person evaluation of that patient. They need to have an expectation for continued care.”

The law does not set a time frame, for how long patients have to be with a doctor. The patient we spoke to says this causes confusion.

Wahl adds, “That relationship can’t exist solely for the purpose of the healthcare provider to complete a written certification.”

Multiple concerned citizens told KX News, there’s no way for them to follow that part because “Many of us have to switch doctors for the sole purpose of obtaining help.”

Senator Lee argues, “The same thing is true anytime a doctor that either of us might have, might move or retire, or do something different. Our medical records are moved to whoever that provider is.”

The West Fargo Senator doesn’t believe having a new doctor should be a problem.

Regardless, it’s all up to the Department of Health. And, our anonymous patient calls this portion of the law a ‘catch 22’, that is making people in North Dakota continue to suffer.

Out of 630 applications submitted to the Department of Health as of last week, 380 have been approved. The remaining applications are still in the system in a saved/waiting stage. The Department of Health says they are waiting on additional information from the patient before a card can be issued.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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