On Friday, February 28, 2020, Elevate Holistics spoke to 41 Action News about a recent maneuver by a Missouri legislator that would unconstitutionally limit access to medical cannabis for many patients in Missouri.

Rep. Dr. Jon Patterson, a Republican state representative and doctor practicing in Lee’s Summit wants to ban medical marijuana telemedicine, i.e. patients having doctor visits via video. Currently, in Missouri, many clinics offer video physician appointments (think Skype or FaceTime) to certify patients.

Patterson has introduced a piece of legislation attached to Missouri House Bill 1896, which would require anyone who wants to get a medical marijuana card to see a physician in person.

Missouri House Bill 1896

This bill states that a physician’s certification for a medical marijuana patient must include “A statement that the physician met and examined the patient in person, reviewed the patient’s medical records, current medications, and symptoms and has created a medical record for the patient”.

It then goes on to state “A physician who violates the provisions of the bill are subject to licensure discipline.”

Patterson was not available for an interview but issued the following statement, explaining why he should be the one to lawfully impose this limit to accessing medical marijuana:

“The medical marijuana constitutional amendment explicitly states that the patient ‘has the right to use medical marijuana for treatment under the supervision of a physician.’

I believe that a phone survey with a physician that the patient has never met does not meet that provision of Amendment 2.

All we are trying to do with my bill is to ensure that patients have safe access to medical marijuana by being evaluated by a physician in-person and undergoing a physical examination prior to certification.”

A neurologist and cannabis care physician in Elevate Holistics’ network, Dr. Gillian Jones,

was interviewed on Friday on the matter of the proposed bill.

Physicians must be licensed in the state to work with medical marijuana patients in Missouri. Patterson takes issue with doctors like Jones, who are based out-of-state, even though she is licensed to practice in Missouri.

“I went to medical school. I went to residency,” Jones said. “I did the same exact training and I carry the same quality of care into this practice as I would into neurology.”

A key part of our mission at Elevate Holistics is to make readily available to patients physicians who specialize in their medical needs and cannabis solutions. It’s about access and availability, without which, many patients might go untreated.

House Bill 1896 would undo what the will of the majority has already put into place.

How the Bill Will Affect Patients

To show how this ban would affect medical marijuana patients, 41 Action News interviewed one of our clients, Jeff Pickman.

Pickman is a Missouri resident and has postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and CSF hypovolemia, both severely debilitating diseases that prevent him from being able to stand for even short periods of time. Small tasks such as getting out of bed, taking a shower and getting ready to leave the house can make him feel sick the entire day.

“I don’t know how I’m going to feel any given morning, so I have to cancel my doctor’s appointments all the time because I’m not feeling well,” Pickman said.

This is just one example of how this bill will severely limit disabled, rural and elderly patients from being able to get their medicine.

“We are a rural state. A lot of these towns have no major hospitals in them; they have very limited doctors offices,” Russell Colby of Elevate Holistics said told 41 Action News.

Veteran and cannabis activist Chris Wolfenbarger said, “I think this bill will eviscerate rural patient access to medical marijuana, which was the exact opposite intent of what Amendment 2 and Missouri voters voted to pass.”

Wolfenbarger works with veterans who often don’t have a primary care doctor. According to him, using telemedicine to gain a medical marijuana card has helped them with depression and other disorders. He added that rural communities and farmers without regular access to mental health resources could greatly benefit from medical cannabis.

This bill would undermine all of that.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says a physician can certify patients through telemedicine if the standard of care does not require an in-person visit and if the physician can truthfully check off all the boxes needed to certify a patient.

The proposed bill goes against Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana in Missouri. The amendment says legislators can’t make any laws that will make it harder for patients to access medical marijuana.

NORML KC issued a statement Friday against the bill.

“We believe this is unconstitutional because it creates an undue burden on patients accessing the medical marijuana program,” the statement reads. “Article XIV explicitly prohibits the legislator or (the Department of Health and Senior Services) from enacting any laws that would cause an undue burden on patients.”

If you’re interested in showing your support for telemedicine, don’t wait to book your appointment with us at Elevate Holistics today.