Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Friday which could make it a bit more difficult for some patients to get a recommendation for medical marijuana.
A 2010 voter-approved Arizona law allows anyone with certain medical conditions to get a doctor's certification to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. At last count there were nearly 66,000 Arizonans who have state-issued cards allowing them to make purchases from state-licensed dispensaries.
Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, said it turns out that the vast majority of these recommendations come from naturopathic physicians.
A report last year found that all but four of the two dozen top-recommending doctors were naturopaths. And one naturopath last year did almost 3,000 certifications.
But state law prohibits the health department, which keeps the records and issues the ID cards to patients, from identifying doctors by name.
Yee said those kinds of numbers suggest that the requirement that there be a "bona fide physician-patient relationship'' was being ignored. But the 2010 law never defined exactly what that is -- and exactly what would prove that the doctor wasn't just writing recommendations for anyone who comes in the door.
This new law spells out that any naturopath writing a recommendation for medical marijuana must spell out what medical records he or she is relying on to support or confirm a diagnosis that a patient has a condition for which marijuana can be recommended.
It also requires the doctor to check with a statewide database that lists any controlled substances the patient may be taking. Yee said that will ensure that the marijuana does not conflict with any other medications.
The measure takes effect July 3.