State’s silence on new cannabis oil law lamented

Advocates for medical use of cannabis oil are disappointed that the state and the Tennessee Medical Association have done nothing to provide guidance on a new law that took effect more than a month ago, according to the Tennessean.

There has been no advice to potential patients or doctors as to how they might follow the new law. Without that guidance, interested parents or patients are turning to the advocates who helped pass the law for help.

“We just want everybody who has the ability to use it to have access to it, and to do it the right way, and not get a product that’s going to cause more problems in the long run,” said Stacie Mathes, who’s currently administering the oil to combat the seizures suffered by her nearly 17-month-old daughter, Josie.

The Tennessee Department of Health has done nothing to educate the public or doctors specifically about the new cannabis oil law, department spokesman Woody McMillin said. McMillin noted the department’s legislative affairs office provides information about any applicable legislation to appropriate boards after each session; so far they’ve met with the Board of Osteopathic Examination this year but not the Board of Medical Examiners.

After these meetings, the state is supposed to post information about every applicable law to its website, McMillin said. But there’s no timeline as to when that might happen for cannabis oil. The legislative updates section of the department’s site is only current through July of 2014.

Advocates and lawmakers argued that research shows the oil can help treat seizures and epilepsy, in addition to other conditions. At the same time, the Tennessee Medical Association, the state’s largest professional organization for physicians, doubts that research, said spokesman Dave Chaney. The TMA doesn’t think it needs to provide information to its members about administering cannabis oil.

“We were neutral on the bill and have not provided information to our members because it really has no bearing on how physicians treat or interact with patients,” Chaney said. “It does not allow physicians to prescribe or recommend cannabis oil as treatment — patients still have to get it somewhere else outside of state lines — so the physician’s role ends with a diagnosis.”