Doctor approved to give medical marijuana certification flooded with calls
LUZERNE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WOLF) -- Thanks to a 22 credit hour course and exam from Harvard Medical School, Dr. John Brady is one of five doctors in Luzerne County and only 12 in NEPA currently certified to treat select patients in Pennsylvania's new medical marijuana program.
"I was surprised. I thought more docs would be eager to learn about this and offer this, especially the pain management docs or the neurologists," he said.
Dr. Brady thinks many doctors may not want to deal with the time and paperwork as an approved physician, in addition to marijuana still being illegal under federal law.
"I think I'm just a pioneer and I think when patients are going to do okay, they're going to feel more comfortable. And when they find out that the DEA isn't going to come here and take my license, then they're going to say, well, if medical is legit, we should get on board," he said.
Dr. Brady notes a list of only 17 medical conditions approved to be treated by the state department of health, but first patients must talk to a doctor approved to issue them a medical cannabis ID card.
"They drop off their records, I read through their medical records, and if I identify a disease that the state approves, then I call them to make an appointment to come in to take the next step in the process," he said.
Since the state directory was posted, his office has been overwhelmed with calls.
"They are cancer patients, they're Parkinson's patients, they're diabetic neuropathy patients, seizure patients, on and on and on and on," said Dr. Brady.
One of those calls was 70-year-old Jim Schlata. He has stage four lung cancer.
"I was even thinking of moving back to Colorado to get medical marijuana, and since they're offering it here, now I don't have to."
While chemo has helped fight his cancer, treatments have taken their toll.
"You lose your taste for food. and you almost have to force yourself to eat. You don't have much of an appetite," he said.
He says as soon as the dispensaries are fully operational, he hopes he can take advantage of them.
"I'm not saying it's a cure-all like anything, but it's definitely another tool in the toolbox to fight disease - especially for me, cancer," said Schlata.
Dr. Brady he's waiting for the state to tell him where to send the new patient information to issue the certifications.
He thinks the program should be fully operational by spring.