After local media in Altoona, PA revealed that Dr. Liang Bartkowiak was licensed to prescribe medical marijuana, the phone at her gynecologist office began to ring off the hook. The problem? Most of her new, prospective patients were men, CBS News reports.
As an OB-GYN who treats women exclusively, Bartkowiak told the Altoona Mirror that she was not expecting the response. "I was shocked," the doctor told the local newspaper. "We’re fielding phone calls from male patients who want to schedule appointments."
A 2016 state law allows people access to medical marijuana provided they suffer from one of 17 qualifying conditions, and are under the care of a doctor. The law allows for pills, vapor, oils, and liquid marijuana; however, the drug is not prescribed in plant form. Even if you have one of the qualifying conditions, there are a couple more steps involved. Doctors must undergo special training before they can prescribe medical marijuana. Additionally, patients must obtain an identification card from the Health Department.
Dr. Lian Bartkowiak believes many of her callers have misunderstood what the law allows, and thinks that the best way to clarify the confusion is to be blunt. "I think laypeople are going to need very plain terminology...You're going to have to come right out and say, 'You are not going to get a joint to smoke.' That is not what medical marijuana is going to be," she told the newspaper.
The program is still relatively new to the state, so only a small number of doctors are currently certified. Bartkowiak said that she became certified as an alternative way to treat women with endometriosis and severe pain from surgeries. Bartkowiak says she won't have time to take on new patients looking for marijuana as OB-GYNs are scarce around Altoona.
Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws.
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