STATEWIDE (WGME) – Some Maine health care providers are saying they are fed up over the divide between the medical marijuana community and the rest of the medical community.
They say they do not know if their patient is using marijuana.
Mainers seeking to use medical marijuana currently can go through a number of licensed doctors to apply but some medical providers say it can be dangerous that a primary care doctor does not have to be notified if their patient starts using marijuana.
“It’s not part of the medical system, in so far as it’s not part of the medical record. Only way I would know is if someone told me,” said Dr. Jeffrey Barkin, chairman of the Maine Medical Association board.
Barkin, who works as a psyciatrist in portland, said there could be harmful side effects from having one doctor prescribe medications and another prescribe marijuana for the same symptoms.
“Some people, if they use cannabis, have panic attacks. Some small percent get paranoid,” Barkin said.
Medical marijuana specialists, however, say the separation between the two communities is because of the lack of cannabis knowledge.
“They don’t learn it in medical school, they don’t learn it in their post-graduate training, so it makes sense for there to be some cannabis specialists that can take complex patients and help them get good results with this medicine,” said Dr. Dustin Sulak, medical director for Integr8 Health.
Sulak said that in an ideal world, every doctor would know what their patient is taking but that there can be problems when a patient’s doctor refuses to help because of their personal feelings about marijuana.
“In those few cases, I don’t push it and I encourage the patient to find a primary care [provider] that they might resonate more,” Sulak said.
Although it is not required, Barkin said every Mainer should share what they are taking with their doctor for their own safety.
“We don’t know how those canabinoids interact with the medications we prescribe largely because cannabis has been illegal federally and remains so,” he said.