reports…Providers in many states temporarily cleared for virtual cannabis visits

As virtual visits during the coronavirus pandemic have been financially supported by the federal government and insurers, states are also endorsing them for an emerging and still controversial therapy: medical marijuana.

More than two dozen states have temporarily permitted prescribing medical cannabis via telemedicine — most for the first time — boosting patient volume for providers hurt by the pandemic, providing care to hundreds of patients, and leading to calls for making the model permanent.

While some worry about patient safety and the long-term consequences of opening up medical marijuana to telehealth in a sudden, widespread fashion, others have embraced the new model.

Jordan Tishler, MD, who runs a medical cannabis practice in the Boston area, prefers to be in the same room as his patients. After about a month of just virtual visits, however, he said: “I have found telemedicine works well for what I do.”

It’s not clear how many healthcare providers nationally prescribe medical marijuana, let alone do so via telemedicine. Some states do share their numbers: Oregon, for example, tallied 9,269 prescribers in an April report, while Arizona had 704 as of the end of March. Rhode Island had 807 at the end of last year, Connecticut has 1,253, Florida has 3,486, and the District of Columbia had 596 as of March 30. Prescribers include a range of professionals, from physicians and nurse practitioners to dentists.

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