WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A Massachusetts company is planning to open a medical marijuana clinic in Delaware next month, though doing business in the state could be tricky.
Boston-based Canna Care Doctors plans to open the clinic on Jan. 17 in an industrial park south of Wilmington just steps away from Delaware's first medical marijuana dispensary, set to begin sales in April.
Canna Care has hired a doctor and a cardiologist, and signed a lease for the clinic. For $200 annually, patients at Canna Care will be able to meet with a "cannabis consultant," and get a doctor's appointment and a six-month follow-up. Insurance won't be accepted.
Kevin Kafka, chief operating officer for Canna Care, said the company targeted Delaware because doctors in the state have been hesitant to recommend medical marijuana to their patients.
"The problem in Delaware right now is they don't have enough doctors writing recommendations for patients who truly need it," he said. "We offer an alternative."
But Delaware's medical marijuana law requires doctors who recommend marijuana to their patients must have a bona fide relationship with them that "may not be limited to authorization for the patient to use medical marijuana or consultation for that purpose," The News Journal reported (http://delonline.us/1uuC83g ).
State officials have recently acted to further tighten those restrictions.
Last month, Delaware's director of public health, sent a letter to about 100 doctors with patients in the state's medical marijuana program, expressing concerns about "walk-in" clinics certifying patients to use medical marijuana without a firmly established relationship.
Going forward, state officials said they'll have a higher standard for physician certification documents.
Among the requirements: health officials reviewing medical marijuana applications must ensure doctors have done a full assessment of a patient's medical history; that they've created and maintained health records; that they'll continue to provide care for the patient; and that they'll provide follow-up care to make sure the marijuana is helping.
Kafka said his company will follow Delaware's rules. The company's Delaware doctor will meet with patients, and provide follow-up care — even sooner than six months, if necessary, he said.
"We've been working very closely with folks in Dover to ensure that we're in full compliance," Kafka said. "We're taking our current business model and altering it to make sure it fits the regulations in Delaware."
There are 164 medical marijuana cardholders in Delaware, with another 46 applications under review, according to the state. The planned opening of Delaware's first dispensary in April will mark the first time those patients can legally obtain marijuana for conditions that include cancer, HIV, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Gov. Jack Markell signed the medical marijuana bill into law in 2011, but he halted implementation after federal authorities indicated people involved in cultivating and distributing marijuana could face civil fines or prosecution.
Last August, the governor said he was moving forward with a single, state-licensed "compassion center." The bill he signed in 2011 had called for three such centers, one in each county.
Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., http://www.delawareonline.com
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