I was very happy to help with this excellent piece in Politico called “The Budtender Will See You Now.” Journalist Rachel Roubein points out the complexity of getting recommendations regarding exactly what to take when it comes to medical cannabis. For the 33 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical cannabis, the laws vary on who can give clinical recommendations to patients. In Pennsylvania, only a pharmacist or licensed professional can make recommendations regarding how to use medical marijuana to treat certain conditions. However, more than half the states allow dispensary employees known as “budtenders” to help patients choose which products to take for their medical conditions. While some budtenders are extremely knowledgeable and have a lot of experience, there is wide variation and known required certification. Budtenders are also not clinicians- they do not take care of patients on a regular basis and have training on medical conditions. One of the problems is that most doctors are not educated on use of medical cannabis. Even doctors and other clinicians that certify patients for medical cannabis many not be educated or trained, and most are not required to give patients specific recommendations of what to take. Medical cannabis, if used correctly, and be a safe and effective way to treat a variety of medical conditions. However, it is important patients get correct information from knowledgable clinicians who know about all your medical conditions including the medicines you take and how they might interact with medical cannabis.
Matthew L. Mintz, MD, FACP