ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — Missouri is seeing an increased interest in medical marijuana as dispensaries begin opening in the St. Louis area on an almost weekly basis. The latest data from the state shows 99,225 patients have been approved for medical marijuana cards.
Right now there are 92 dispensaries open across the state, with another 100 to come. Driving by new dispensaries like Swade Cannabis in the Grove or Kind Goods in Fenton – which is hosting a grand opening this weekend – potential patients are becoming increasingly interested.
“I’m interested in getting one,” said Donna Harper who’s suffered from arthritis pain in her hands for five years. “It’s been a little confusing, you can’t just call your doctor and get a card. So you have to go online somewhere and follow some links.”
That’s because while Missouri legalized medical marijuana for a list of certain conditions back in 2018, marijuana still remains illegal on a federal level and some hospitals will not allow their doctors to certify patients.
SSM Hospital says physicians can certify some patients but they must have a pre-existing and long-standing relationship with a physician. But at Mercy, their doctors are not allowed to certify patients.
“Under our policy, Mercy and non-Mercy physicians practicing at a Mercy facility may not certify patients for medical marijuana,” reads the policy on Mercy’s website.
It explains why they made that decision: “Our goal in developing the policy is to support safe and effective evidence-based care that is in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.”
That stance can make it difficult for patients who qualify under the law to know where to turn. “I’ve actually grown a little frustrated. Both young and old who’ve come up to me and say how do we get our patient card?” explained Drew Lammert, the CEO of Kind Goods. They are opening dispensaries in Fenton, Manchester and St. Peters and to help their potential patients, they are working with NuggMD, a telehealth program.
NuggMD says they charge $99 for an evaluation with a Missouri licensed physician who will “listen to your concerns and help you figure out the best treatment plan for your conditions.”
In Missouri, you must have one of several conditions to qualify for a card. Click here for the full list.
A reminder that only the state department of health can issue cards. A doctor issues a certification and then a patient must apply with the state. The process to receive a card can take up to a month.
The state is seeing an increase in applications as more dispensaries open and more people learn about options available and that’s why people like Donna Harper wish it was easier to work through the process to get certified.
“You have to give them information about yourself so I do think people should be careful about how they go about finding how you go about doing this,” she said.
Experts say it’s important to ensure the doctor is certified and it’s a good idea to ask friends of other patients for a referral to ensure you are working with a legitimate doctor.
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