Patients who want to buy medical marijuana now have two alternatives if their primary-care physician or specialist won’t certify them for a medical marijuana identity card.
Compassionate Certification Centers and PA Green Medical have each opened medical offices in the Erie area within the past two weeks. Each office specializes in certifying people for the ID card, which is needed to buy marijuana legally in Pennsylvania.
CCC began seeing patients Tuesday at 2063 W. Eighth St. and will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony there Wednesday at 9 a.m. PA Green Medical opened its office at 5050 W. Ridge Road in Millcreek Township on Sept. 26.
“It’s a specific area of medicine,” said Melonie Kotchey, CCC co-founder and CEO. “You wouldn’t go to a cardiologist to have a baby. We specialize in medical cannabis.”
Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program requires a physician’s certification that a patient has one of 21 serious medical conditions in order for the patient to receive the ID card, which enables them to purchase medical marijuana.
The physician must be approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to certify patients. Twenty-two Erie County physicians have been approved.
CCC, which has opened offices across the state, is designed for patients whose physicians aren’t approved to certify people. Its offices are staffed by physicians who are approved to certify patients.
“My job is to review a patient’s medical record, explain to the patient the benefits of different types of medical marijuana and certify them to the Department of Health if they qualify,” said Brad Buege, D.O., an Erie native who will work full time at the West Eighth Street office.
Patients do not buy medical marijuana at these medical offices. It can only be sold in Pennsylvania at dispensaries such as Rise Erie, which is located across the street from CCC’s Erie office.
“The patient leaves our office, visits the Department of Health website, fills out the required information and pays the $50 fee,” said Buege, who is also an emergency physician at Westfield Memorial Hospital in Chautauqua County, New York. “They receive the ID card three to five business days later and that is what they use to buy medical marijuana at the dispensary.”
Physicians at these offices do not treat patients for other medical issues and do not accept health insurance. CCC charges $199 to certify a patient for an ID card.
CCC accepts both appointments and walk-in visits. It will be open Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For future hours, call 888-316-9085.
Source: David Bruce, Staff Writer at GoErie.com
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