This month, Utah Business partnered with Holland & Hart to host a roundtable event featuring Utah healthcare leaders to discuss medical marijuana, mental illness, and innovation in healthcare. Moderated by Dave Gessel, executive vice president at the Utah Hospital Association, here are a few highlights from the event.
What are businesses doing to adjust to medical marijuana use?
Scott Barlow | CEO | Revere Health
We developed the clinical protocols of the mechanics of how to handle it if a patient requests such and has the right indicators. I don't think anyone's doing it yet, because there's still disconcert about their national DEA license through exposure. So, we're stuck in this middle of where we have the VA licenses and it's still illegal federally.
The other thing we've actually done is we've created a clinical pathway in our digestive disease research. The use of marijuana causes tremendous digestive issues actually. So, literally, we've created some clinical protocols now and even that some training of our gastroenterology teams, getting prepared for what we think is going to be a significant amount of increase in digestive disease problems that could be a byproduct of marijuana usage.
Jim Swayze | President | Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah
I came from Colorado two and a half years ago. In Colorado, there were packaging and dosage type issues. There was what was called "pot tourism." People coming into the area that maybe smoked pot in college and haven't done it in years and tried it, and were ingesting gummies and other things like that, and all of a sudden got themselves in trouble because they didn't realize [how potent they were.] So we need the public service announcements, which was almost funny to see those types of things being publicized. So, I think Colorado did a pretty good job of adjusting to the issues pretty fast.
Because [of the] federal and state laws, most employers still [follow federal law] and do drug screening. That's probably my biggest concern as an employer. There's a lot of social issues to work out as well. In a dense area like downtown, if someone is smoking marijuana on their porch, and it's blowing over into someone else's area, what should you do with that? I could go on and on as far as all of the types of learnings and things. But I think that it's good to move forward and I think we need to react quickly to make the changes that are necessary to kind of support it and be very nimble with it.
Bruce Bartholomew | Business Development Officer | OnSite Care
I think that OnSite Care, the clinics that we operate for employers, tend to reflect some of the thinking of the senior management of those employers. But for the time being, we're currently not prescribing medical marijuana in our clinics, just because of the safety and liability questions that still surround use of medical marijuana in the workplace.
Joe Miner | Executive Director | Utah Department of Health
Utah originally was going to have their own state-central fill pharmacy. That was changed with the special session to be a state central patient portal, but not a pharmacy. So it will be done entirely with private pharmacies, but they have to all go through our state-central portal, the pharmacies, the individuals, the recommending physicians. They can't prescribe, it's just a recommendation with some qualifying medical diagnosis that that qualifies [for usage].
If they don't have a qualifying medical condition, they can go before our Compassionate Use board to determine if an exception should be made for those individuals. Plus...