Three years have passed since North Dakota voters decided medical marijuana should be available.
KX News sat down with a patient who’s frustrated that she’s still not able to get certified.
Jody Vetter has been a patient with CHI St. Alexius in Bismarck for years. Since they are not a facility that allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana, her troubles began there.
Vetter tells us, “I’m a medical patient. Right now I can’t find a doctor, can’t grow my own medicine, can’t have edibles.”
She suffers from spinal stenosis, neuropathy, migraines, and anxiety, many of which cause her chronic pain. And, all of which are considered debilitating conditions that qualify for medical marijuana in North Dakota.
Vetter shares, “Just still doesn’t seem like it’s enough to convince the doctors to participate in the program, so a lot of people are struggling to try to find a physician.”
She says she tried Mid-Dakota clinic with no luck and adds, she wouldn’t even try Sanford because she heard no one was getting certified there.
Department of Health Medical Marijuana Division Director Jason Wahl adds, “It may take a little more time than what people would like to hear. However, it truly is the healthcare provider’s determination in regards to completing that written certification form, and we have no authority to require them to sign or not to sign the form.”
Senator Judy Lee says it’s just like getting a new doctor for any other reason.
The Republican West Fargo Senator explains, “Our medical records are moved to whoever that new provider is. It could be an advanced practice nurse or it could be an MD. So I don’t see that as a huge deal.”
Wahl says his department has been giving presentations and reaching out to health care facilities. He says these efforts are, in part, to increase the number of health care providers recommending medical marijuana.
Wahl shares, “We are also able to see in the data now, that the number of healthcare providers completing written certification forms is starting to increase.”
Vetter says there are still a lot of hoops to jump through. She still believes things will get easier for her, but she says the time is now, for patients like her, who want an alternative medicine for their pain.
She explains, “Right now I’m fighting for personal freedom. It’s not the evil monster in the corner waiting to get your children.”
Vetter hasn’t stopped her quest to find the right doctor. She’s been waiting for weeks to hear back from a clinic in Bismarck. She’s even left voicemails with a provider out in Williston.