Oklahoma Health Contractor Bans Doctors from Recommending Marijuana

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Healthcare systems in Oklahoma are waiting for federal legalization to approve medical marijuana

The majority of doctors in Oklahoma are unable to sign medical marijuana recommendations for their patients, even when they support it as a treatment option. A leading health contractor in the state bans doctors at the clinics it underwrites from promoting or endorsing the use of cannabis.

In order to obtain a license to use medical marijuana, patients must obtain a signature from their care provider. Several patients of the Saint Francis Health System and Oklahoma State Unversity Medical Center say doctors have refused to sign the recommendation.

Saint Francis Health System released a statement on the issue, saying the bylaws in their contracts with hospitals require physicians to abide by federal and state laws. The other system, OSU Medical Center, said marijuana lacks clinical evidence for therapeutic purposes in its statement about preventing its doctors from approving the drug for patients.

While Saint Francis and OSU Medical serve millions of Oklahomans, they are not the only options in the state. Integris and Hillcrest health care systems both take a more liberal approach to medical marijuana.

Integris leaves the decision to approve cannabis as medical treatment up to the discretion of the doctors in its network. Hillcrest has a similar policy but limits the number of physicians that are allowed to make such decisions.

Only board-certified hematologists, oncologists, pain management physicians, and palliative care physicians under Hillcrest are allowed to recommend marijuana. Hillcrest said they are open to expanding the list of doctors in accordance with changing Oklahoma laws.