MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Davis Signs Bill Allowing Pot “Pills”
It is now easier for California patients using Marinol -- a synthetic pill form of marijuana -- to fill their prescriptions, thanks to Gov. Gray Davis' (D) signing of SB 550 last week. The legislation shifts the drug from the state's schedule II list of controlled substances to schedule III. Under schedule II, prescriptions must be documented in triplicate, with one copy sent to the state department of justice. But with its new classification, Marinol -- used to stimulate the appetite of AIDS and some cancer patients -- can now be prescribed over the phone and refilled as ordered by a doctor. The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Patrick Johnson (D-Stockton), received unanimous support from lawmakers in both the Assembly and the state Senate, and now puts the state in line with federal regulations. Although physicians suggest that the move will "make little difference," medicinal marijuana advocates are calling it a "political win" and a "victory for the medical cannabis movement." Supporter Dr. Kathleen Clanon, chief of the Division of HIV Services at Highland Hospital in Oakland, said, "It's a convenience issue, primarily. It will not make a big difference in terms of people's ability to get Marinol, but it will make it easier for patients to get it on time, to get it with less hassle, [and] to get it from doctors who may be reluctant to prescribe schedule II drugs" (Stannard, Alameda News Group, 3/31).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.