Some doctors express concern about their role in medical marijuana

OKLAHOMA CITY - Some doctors say physicians will have a minimal role on medical marijuana implementation.

"It seems that the doctors in this relationship is being reduced to that of a strawman to lend some degree of recreational marijuana," said Dr. Mike Mullins. "It’s probably going to be more along the lines of us brokering licenses to consumers. We have no idea what they’re obtaining. They, honestly, probably don’t have any idea what they’re obtaining and that’s what concerning to us."

Dr. Mullins is an anesthesiologist from Norman. He was invited to speak at a medical marijuana working group meeting at the Capitol on Wednesday and explained to lawmakers that there was very little doctors can discuss with their patients about medical marijuana, because marijuana itself is still illegal under federal law.

"The federal government doesn’t consider it to be a medicinal product that has any benefit to the patient, therefore we cannot discuss anything to do with therapies for the patients or risks versus benefits to the patients at all," he said.

Dr. Doug Cox also spoke at the meeting on Wednesday. The former state representative said he hopes the Legislature will fix gaps under State Question 788 and "narrow it down to non mood-altering forms".

Dr. Cox told the room smoking pot tends to be the entryway into addiction, drawing some boo's from the spectators.

"We all know…for a lack of a better term, I don’t want to offend anybody potheads that lay around and smoke marijuana all the time and that’s their main goal in life is to decide where they’re going to get their next hit. That’s not everybody but we all know, we all know some of those people," he said. "Marijuana is a Class 1 federal drug. There’s a reason for that. Do your research and find out why."

The group of 13 lawmakers heard from doctors on Wednesday along with the public.

"We can show the nation once again what the Oklahoma standard looks like," said Chelsea Marlett-Kennedy.

Marlett Kennedy is with the group "Patients and Activists For 788". She said most of the ideas discussed in the past few weeks are good for patients, but they have some concerns such as limiting the number of dispensaries.

" Medical centers and pharmacies do not face these sort of regulations and sorts of regulations not should be put against medicinal cannabis. This will prevent patients who often struggle with transportation from having access entirely," she said. "A free market approach lowers the cost of medicine for everyone and many patients are already struggling to make ends meet as it is."

Others, including registered nurse Leslie Collum, also urged lawmakers to take a serious look at issues such as patient access and transportation.

"In Durant, there’s no medical provider there that they can go to get the recommendation. So now we’ve now we’ve got vulnerable patients that are in these rural areas that having to drive two hours plus to get that recommendation," explained Collum. "What if they have no transportation? What if they can’t get out of bed really? How do we expect them to travel all the way to the city? What if their financial resources are strapped? They can’t get to the city. What if they don’t have family? What if they don’t have friends? That’s not uncommon for an older vet, an older patient. That’s not uncommon at all."

The next meeting with the working group will be next Wednesday at 9 a.m. Applications for medical marijuana licenses will be available beginning Saturday at 10 a.m.