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A change in federal policy on marijuana

by
Optum Workers' Comp
| Jan 30, 2018

As you may be aware, earlier this month United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to all Department of Justice (DOJ) United States Attorneys that rescinded previous memoranda directed specifically at the enforcement of existing federal laws and prosecutorial discretion concerning marijuana. The memorandum is effective immediately. This memorandum initiates a policy change from the previous DOJ policy, which may impact marijuana enforcement at the Federal and State level. Despite this federal policy change, our guiding philosophy on the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of pain has not changed.

Marijuana does not have a designated National Drug Code (NDC) to allow processing at pharmacies; therefore, it will not process on our formularies. Additionally, consistent dosage level processes remain problematic from a clinical perspective.  From a practical standpoint, banking regulations restrict the manner in which marijuana prescriptions are reimbursed. Marijuana is also still considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and is subject to criminal prosecution even though utilization of recreational and/or medical marijuana is permitted in many states under individual state laws. Furthermore, evidence-based guidelines do not recommend the use of marijuana for the treatment of pain and it lacks the essential quality control measures required to ensure safe prescribing. Consequently, from a clinical, legal, and practical perspective we continue to maintain there are more appropriate medications that can be prescribed instead of marijuana in the treatment of workers’ compensation conditions.   

For more information on the U.S. Attorney General’s Marijuana Enforcement Memorandum, please click here

Sources:

  1. United States Department of Justice. Office of Public Affairs. Office of the Attorney General. Memorandum for all United States Attorneys. Marijuana Enforcement.January 4, 2018. Available at: https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1022196/download.
  2. Business Insurance. Article. State officials vow to challenge Justice Department’s marijuana enforcement memo. January 5, 2018. Available at: http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20180105/NEWS08/912318313/Justice-Department-Jeff-Sessions-federal-marijuana-law-enforcement
  3. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Schedules. Available at: https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml.

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