Medical marijuana: Hospitals at a crossroads

Medical marijuana and medical facilities have yet to voluntarily join forces, and if they do, it will be an uneasy alliance at best. Even as marijuana has become legal for medical use in more than 20 states and for recreational use in Colorado and Washington, hospitals are hesitant to dispense the drug to patients for fear of antagonizing a federal government that still considers it a dangerous controlled substance unfit for medical use.

In Chicago, Swedish Covenant Hospital is exploring the possibility of dispensing medical marijuana like any other subscription drug. Illinois recently began the process of setting up a medical marijuana dispensary system. However, hospital officials acknowledge they will take a huge financial risk by doing so, potentially jeopardizing their Medicare and Medicaid payments. In the Sauk Valley region in the rural western part of the state, two hospitals there are also examining the issue closely. But they also have their reservations about prescribing the drug directly. CGH Medical Center in Sterling, Illinois has gone so far as to send medical staff to workshops about medical marijuana, but has no plans to take further steps, according to SaukValley.com. But Tim Appenheimer, M.D., chief medical officer for KSB Hospital in Dixon, Illinois, told the publication the political side of medical marijuana is ahead of the clinical side, and there was little scientific proof about the efficacy of the drug in specific patient treatments. Read the full article at FierceHealthcare

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