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Companies blanket Pa. with ads about how to get a medical marijuana card, but doctors are silenced

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When Pennsylvania lawmakers legalized medical cannabis in 2016, they struck an unusual deal: Physicians can approve patients for the program but they are banned from advertising that power.

Lawmakers feared advertising would encourage thousands of patients to flood the same doctor’s office solely seeking a medical marijuana card, or motivate physicians to excessively approve patients for profit.

Or, as one marijuana legalization advocate put it, lawmakers didn’t want “pot doctors.”

But six years later, that rule and the inconsistent enforcement that followed have given an advantage to largely unregulated certification businesses that stand to rake in millions of dollars each year courting Pennsylvania medical marijuana patients, a Spotlight PA investigation has found.

Those businesses typically offer to connect patients with partner physicians who can certify patients without actually advertising or identifying those physicians by name, a tactic that would be nearly impossible for an individual doctor or a private practice.

As a result, marijuana card companies promote themselves on the airwaves, run newspaper ads, offer discounts on sites like Groupon, and dominate Google searches for medical marijuana doctors. Some company websites even promise money-back guarantees if patients aren’t approved.

By contrast, individual physicians working on their own or in small practices can face harsh penalties for taking a similar approach — or even for simply noting on websites that they are among the state-approved physicians who can certify patients for medical marijuana cards. [Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer]

The post Companies blanket Pa. with ads about how to get a medical marijuana card, but doctors are silenced appeared first on Cannabis Business Executive – Cannabis and Marijuana industry news.

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