Medical Marijuana @ 1 Year

November 9th, 2012 by Will Humble Leave a reply »

Our Vital Health Statistics team along with our partners at the UA College of Public Health completed the 1st Annual Report for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program this week.  You’ll find a wide range of information in the report including data about the demographics and kinds and qualifying conditions of our cardholders, geographic distribution and rates as well as background information on the budget and fund, the various lawsuits, and de-identified information about physicians that are writing certifications. 

Perhaps the most striking thing in the report is that 24 doctors have signed about 80% of the 30,000 or so certifications in Year 1…  and a handful of doctors wrote more than 1,000 certifications.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that these doc’s aren’t acting in the best interests of their patients- but it does give us some insight into which ones we should be focusing on to ensure that they’re meeting our certification expectations.  The report goes into more detail if you’re interested. 

Dr. Cara Christ (our Agency Medical Director) did some outreach this week with the Executive Directors of the 4 medical licensing boards to brainstorm about what we can do as a system to ensure that doctors are truly acting in their patient’s best interests, complying with each licensing board’s expectations, and meeting our standards for certifications.  We’re also looking into doing some more intensive medical education among high frequency certifiers and have signed a contract with the AZ State Board of Pharmacy to help us with surveillance among the certifying physicians.  You can see some of the recommendations at the end of the report. 

Of course…  the info in the Annual Report is just a sub-set of all of the data we have about the program…  and you can see the full array of data and information including our summary monthly reports on our hub website.

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12 comments

  1. JJ says:

    Hello Will,

    My options for treating chronic pain are very powerful and dangerous opiates with horrifying side-effects. Although, pain is subjective and cannot be seen, it does not make it any less real.

    Please make sure that you are placing compassion and human empathy above and beyond Arizona’s dirty politics.

    Respectfully,

    jj

  2. Eric Herrigner says:

    Wow! That is a daring comment to say that you are “focusing” on doctors that were brave enough to certify patients simply because ADHS scared away all the others!

    Furthermore, this very open and public notice is a slanderous and libelous connotation that those certified doctors are somehow doing something illegal? The damage you may have caused them by this announcement is shocking! Unprofessional and irresponsible would be an understatement.

    Obviously, the Director is feeling a sense of self-empower “high” of his own right now. This almost sounds like ADHS will write its own policies going forward, which was not the will of the voters. ADHS works for the people; and the people did not give ADHS police powers, investigations based on assumptions, nor the power to falsely incriminate doctors openly without CLEAR and CONVINCING evidence that supports such self-altered theories.

    It is vital to understand that ADHS was responsible for creating the lack of doctors willing to write and certify patients through fear or retribution….now they want to use their own actions to condemn those that stood boldly…. through more fear of retribution!

    An immediate change in Medical Directors should therefore be demanded and Mr. Humble, by his incredulous comments, should resign immediately. I would expect much more professional and ethical behavior from anyone holding the title as the Medical Director for Arizona.

  3. frances says:

    Wow I for one cannot believe how you are treating these people, it is certainly not with compassion for the wounded and inflicted populace you have in Arizona, Shame on you, seriously shame on you! First you place so much condemnation on the Dr’s who suggest this valuable herbal alternative that many people in pain were completely dumped off any type of pain prescription at all for choosing the medical Marijuana to begin with, some hoping to get away from the addicting pills and liver damage associated with it.Now you are harrasing the Dr;s who actually tried to help their patients and took this leap to help. You sir and i use sir lightly are a bad person, You are charging these poor disabled people 150 dollars for a card your trying your best to take away. You do not show a good example of leadership for Arizonians by going against their will when they voted in this medical marijuana . Personally I think you should resign in shame

  4. Kimberly Haslett says:

    Mr Humble,

    Sadly this is politics as usual in AZ, and your thinly veiled threats to doctors who are brave enough to put patients before politics. You are using the money you have made from medical cannabis to harm the industry by hiring the U of A Pharmacy Dept. The fact that you stated you are going to focus on these 20 doctors is a veiled threat if I have ever heard one. You have also stated that you are going to be hiring accountants, auditors, etc to oversee dispenaries. The money the ADHS has made from medical cannabis could be used to help the citizens of AZ, yet you choose to use the funds as a big “gotcha”. I think that we need to rethink the fact that the AMMA gave you the authority to use the funds as you see fit, and put some controls in the law. Why don’t you use the funds to help indigent, or hospice patients, or to expand health services in poor schools, instead of trying to hurt the very industry that gave you these funds? While I agree that we need oversight in the industry I don’t think we need a big brother mentality. When are you going to follow the law and treat this as medicine as it is defined in the AMMA. Per the AMMA cannabis is medicine and must be treated as such. In no way should you be treating recommending doctors, any differently than you do a non recommending doctor that prescribes opiates or other medicines. Your blog is a clear indication of your attempt to harrass, and harm medical cannabis. As a health professional I feel it is your responsibility and duty to get the real facts about cannabis, and stop with the reefer madness mentality. When will you stop playing politics?

  5. john says:

    Will humble has made this a total joke you think your are a very crafty person as to place chess chips in front of every part of this medical marijuana program, you are trying to run this program as if you are a dictator, you would rather watch how closely marijuana does than to what the Pharmaceutical companies put out into the market.. you sir need to be replaced as Health Director.

  6. Justin Michels says:

    Why is it so easy to use research and scientific principles to make unfounded and deeply offensive allegations against trained medical professionals; yet, so difficult to acknowledge what peer-reviewed scientific journals and dedicated researchers have already proven regarding the medical prowess of this ancient elixir? Mr. Humble, perhaps it is time for you to change your name and find a career where your lack of respect for others will do less harm to our society. Or, maybe just try a little cannabis and gain some perspective on life which you are obviously lacking. After all, the one thing I think we can all agree on is that it’s not going to kill you! Unlike the countless other drugs which you seem to have no problem with people using…

  7. Bonita Colley says:

    Signing a contract with AZ Pharmacy??? I would call that a blatant conflict of interest. Big Pharmacy doesn’t want anyone to go the natural way to their health. Once again I will state as I have before on here. I was having to take 50 to 100 mg. of demerol to control my pain and my life wasn’t worth living!!!!! Now that I am off all the pharmaceuticals and living naturally I have better control of my pain and living a more productive life! Quit trying to play god and just leave those of us who have stepped out of the poisons of western medicine alone, including the doctors who have compassion for us all! The doctor who signed off on my conditions didn’t just leave it at medical marijuana but also guides me in my eating as well as other healthy alternatives for my conditions! After 12 years of this med and that med that had side affects that made me worse I am finally living a life that is worth living!!!! Just follow the state law and quit trying to shut down the program!

  8. J says:

    How are you to require Doctors to have more training? Most Doctors are not certifying everyone who walks through the door. Its way too expensive as is to pay the state and the Doctor the same fee. You need to back off and leave the Doctors alone. They are providing a wonderful service that no every Doctor will do.

  9. Will Humble says:

    There seems to be a little confusion about my objectives regarding the certifications that physicians are making. We carefully crafted the regulations for certifications to make sure that physicians are using best practices before signing certifications- while keeping the system flexible and within a physician’s scope of practice. Our only real objective is to make sure that doctors meet the standards before they sign the certification. Those standards include:

    • Making or confirming a diagnosis of a debilitating medical condition for the patient;
    • Establishing and maintaining a medical record for the qualifying patient and maintaining the qualifying patient’s medical record;
    • Conducting an in-person physical examination within the last 90 calendar days appropriate to the patient’s presenting symptoms and the debilitating medical condition;
    • Reviewing the patient’s medical records (including medical records from other treating physicians from the previous 12 months), the patient’s responses to conventional medications and medical therapies;
    • Reviewing the patient’s profile on the Arizona Board of Pharmacy Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program database; and
    • Explaining the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana to the patient.

    That’s all we ask in terms of physician certification. Our goal is to simply ensure that physicians are actually doing the things outlined above and not just checking the boxes. We’re not trying to stop doctors from certifying patients- we’re just trying to make sure that they’re actually doing the things outlined above.

  10. Alex Paronyan says:

    Hello Mr.Humble

    First I would like to applaud the Arizona Department of Health services in the efforts to put together a medical marijuana program that provides access to ill patients in need, this is a lot more than what other states of have done.

  11. Jarl Kubat says:

    I am having a hard time understanding the use of medical marijuana. For societies sake, I hope Arizona is not making a big mistake.

  12. Farrok says:

    Most physicians will not treat pain but let people suffer. These physicians are helping their patients and treating their pain. What is wrong with that? It seems the State of Arizona can’t stand it. Why?

    Medical Marijuana has become a political football and not much more. In reality the State of Arizona does not respect the Democratic Vote of the People of Arizona and scheems to destroy the program? Why?

    The People of Arizona have Voted 3 times for Medical Marijuana and the State has turned over heaven and earth to destroy their Vote, Why? Why do you want People is severe pain, Will ?

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