A new downtown doctor’s office will help guide those suffering from one of 17 conditions through the medical marijuana maze.
Compassionate Certification Centers held a ribbon-cutting on Friday at their office at 127 E. Cunningham St.
Dr. Bryan Doner, CEO and medical director, said the six doctors who rotate through the company’s regional offices will evaluate patients and help provide them with certifications to get their medical marijuana cards.
Only patients suffering from one of 17 state qualifying conditions can be treated with medical marijuana.
The patients then take the card to a dispensary to collect the medical marijuana product the Compassionate Certification Centers doctors feel would best ease their symptoms.
Doner said the doctors are all full-fledged physicians with varied specialties, including emergency medicine, oncology and physiatry.
Doner himself is an emergency room doctor at the ACMH Hospital in Kittanning.
He said individuals experiencing one of the approved conditions can come in on their own or be sent by a doctor.
The doctors at the Center will evaluate each person, determine whether they are eligible or would benefit from medical marijuana, and help them get their card.
The center will then create a medical marijuana treatment plan and follow up with the patient as needed.
“We’ll function like any other medical specialty office,” Doner said.
The only difference is that the doctors will not give patients a prescription for medical marijuana, as that could violate the physicians’ licenses because medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The patient would receive a card with a bar code, and that bar code would be scanned at the dispensary along with the products they are buying.
That way, patients can easily be tracked throughout their treatment.
Known as “seed to sale tracking,” all medical marijuana products, whether inhaled, topical or oral, are tracked digitally from the time they are planted to dispensation, Doner said.
He explained that while THC is the widely recognized component in marijuana and the one used to vilify the product by its detractors, many other components of cannabinoids work to treat pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, seizures and other symptoms.
“I can give the patient all the benefits of medical marijuana and not the psychoactive effects,” Doner said.