Medical Marijuana Prescription VS Recommendation

Often getting your medical marijuana license in Montana is thought of in three basic steps.

1. You get a prescription from a doctor.

2. You send the prescription into the state government with costs associated.

3. You then receive a card in the mail after approval of your license.

There is a tendency to think of the recommendation from your doctor as a prescription, but in reality, writing a prescription for cannabis is highly illegal and could cause the doctor or physician to be punished by federal law and face fines as well as losing their practice all together.

Because Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government, it is deemed to be as dangerous as heroin or meth. The definition of a schedule 1 drug from the DEA website states:

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:

heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

For this reason, it is illegal for any physician or doctor in the United States to give a prescription for any of the federally banned substances listed above.

Though the two words are often thought of as the same thing, looking at the definitions shows there is a stark difference between what they stand for.

Prescription – An instruction written by a medical practitioner that authorizes a patient to be provided a medicine or treatment.

Recommendation – A suggestion or proposal as to the best course of action, especially one put forward by an authoritative body.

In Conant v. Walters, 309 F.3d 629 (9th Cir. 2002)

The Ninth Circuit set the precedent for allowing a doctor to recommend medical marijuana without facing the penalties associated with prescribing a federally banned substance. The case was stated by the judge to “fall outside of the scope of aiding and abetting or conspiracy to commit a violation of the CSA.”

As you can see the medical marijuana law in America is still wavering on a thin grey line. Until the federal government takes cannabis off of the schedule 1 drug list it will always be considered a federal crime to possess and use the plant for medical purposes.

It is imperative for medical providers of cannabis to follow the law of the land, the sick patients of the country depend on it.