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Medical and Recreational Marijuana

Information on authorizing the use of medical marijuana, general information on medical and recreational marijuana laws in Washington state, and information on the effects, use and abuse of marijuana.

Authorization of Medical Marijuana

Authorization form and guidelines

Visit the Washington State Department of Health website for detailed information on authorizing marijuana use for patients, including:

  • Medical marijuana authorization form.
  • Authorization practice guidelines.
  • Provider continuing education on the medical use of marijuana.
  • Updates on the establishment of a statewide medical marijuana database.
  • FAQs for providers and patients.
Find these and more on the Department of Health medical marijuana webpages.

Must a physician authorize the use of medical marijuana?

No, there is nothing in state law that requires a physician or any licensed health care professional to authorize the use of medical marijuana for a patient.

Marijuana Use and Patient Safety

There are many peer reviewed articles in medical journals that discuss marijuana’s effects, but the Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use, featured in a 2014 volume of the New England Journal of Medicine, does an exemplary job of distilling the issue down into an easily digestible and informative read. The NEJM has graciously allowed the WSMA to provide the article in full, and physicians would be well advised to read it.

The University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute has many resources for those interested in the health effects and potential dependency issues of marijuana use. Many of these documents are targeted at teens and parents, but the site’s list of marijuana fact sheets are informative, easy to read and understand, and cover a broad array of sub-topics related to marijuana use.

Finally, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has put out a public policy statement raising concerns with physicians’ involvement in authorizing medical marijuana use. The publication concludes with insightful recommendations for physicians and agencies involved in health care.

Emerging Research and Potential Medical Benefits

A look at scientific research and resources on marijuana's efficacy in treating specific conditions and managing symptoms.

Journal articles discussing emerging research

Aggerwal, S.K. Cannabinergic Pain Medicine: A Concise Clinical Primer and Survey of Randomized-controlled Trial Results. Clinical Journal of Pain. Feb. 29, 2013:162-71.

The research presented in this article indicates that medical marijuana has potential health benefits for pain patients. This is a study partly responsible for the sizable grant the University of Washington recently received to educate Washington state residents on medical marijuana use.

Borgelt, Laura M., et al. The Pharmacologic and Clinical Effects of Medical Cannabis. Pharmacotherapy. Feb. 2013, volume 33, no. 2, pages 195-209.

Resources from the Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic has assessed cannabis sativa as part of their comprehensive library of evaluations for various commonly used drugs and supplements. The clinic’s evaluations include easy to understand A-F grades measuring the drug’s efficacy in treating specific conditions and managing symptoms, which accompany grading rationale. Notably, there is no condition for which the clinic awarded marijuana an “A” grade in treating.

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