California Telehealth Law Increased Access to Medical Marijuana
A 2011 California telehealth law (AB 415) has helped clear the way for residents to obtain medical marijuana prescriptions through remote, online consultations, mHealth Intelligence reports (Wicklund, mHealth Intelligence, 12/7).
Previously, patients were limited to using telehealth in three areas of medicine:
- Optometry; and
- Psychology (Gorn, California Healthline, 9/23/14).
However, the Telehealth Advancement Act:
- Describes a broader range of services and sites for telehealth;
- Updated the definition of telehealth;
- Streamlined provider credentialing; and
- Gave permission for all licensed health professionals to conduct telehealth services (Edlin, California Healthline, 4/3/14).
Telehealth for Medical Marijuana Rx
Under the state's medical marijuana regulations, Californians must visit a certified physician to receive a prescription before ordering from a supplier.
However, several companies in recent years have worked to simplify the process California patients use to obtain medical marijuana prescriptions by moving it online, according to mHealth Intelligence.
For example, SpeedWeed, which launched in 2011, recently integrated HelloMD's telehealth software into its online platform to enable users to obtain medical marijuana prescriptions via telehealth visits. San Francisco-based HelloMD already had been offering medical marijuana consultations via telehealth visits.
A.J. Gentile, co-founder of SpeedWeed, said, "Delivery has been convenient and private, and patients wanted their doctor's appointment to be convenient and private as well" ( mHealth Intelligence, 12/7).
San Diego Dispensary Fined $1.8M
In related news, a medical marijuana dispensary in Pacific Beach has been fined $1.8 million for operating outside San Diego zoning regulations, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The fine against SoCal Holistic Health is the largest against a dispensary in the city's history.
In November, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor ruled that the company was operating illegally and issued a permanent injunction, barring it from having a dispensary within city limits.
In addition to the fine, SoCal Holistic Health will be required to reimburse the city's code enforcement division $1,065 and pay an undetermined amount in litigation costs.
Last week, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said, "The judges are sending a message, and so are we: Marijuana dispensaries can either follow the law or they will pay a high price for their actions" (Stewart, Los Angeles Times, 12/5).
Solana Beach City Council Discusses Medical Marijuana Laws
Meanwhile, the Solana Beach City Council plans to meet this week to address its options for regulating or prohibiting medical marijuana sales, cultivation and dispensaries, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
According to the Union-Tribune, many cities are developing ordinances to clarify their responsibilities under a recent law (Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/7). In October, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a three-bill legislative package to establish statewide medical marijuana regulations (California Healthline, 10/13).
On Friday, Mayor Lesa Heebner (D) said the Solana Beach is likely to oppose dispensaries, given public opinion.
Solana Beach voters in 2012 rejected an initiative that would have allowed medical marijuana dispensaries. Heebner said, "[O]ur community weighed in pretty strongly against medical marijuana dispensaries, so I'm predisposed to take a conservative route" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.