Currently, 33 states across the country have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, including the states of New York and New Jersey. Several other states have legalized the use of CBD products, which is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis. However, at the federal level, marijuana remains a controlled dangerous substance. This disparity between state and federal law leaves many unanswered questions when it comes to medical malpractice issues. With marijuana being prescribed and administered at high rates, patient injuries or illnesses are bound to occur. Our New York medical malpractice lawyers explore some potential medical malpractice issues surrounding medical marijuana below.
Lack of Consistent Regulations
Each state has its own laws regarding the distribution and prescription of marijuana. In some states, like New York, dispensaries must be staffed by pharmacists. Other states will allow staff to have just a high school diploma. The great disparity between the qualifications of dispensary staff members could potentially lead to patient harm.
The dispensary staff is responsible for filling a prescribing doctor’s orders. They will need to answer patient questions as to dosing, drug interactions, best delivery method, and more. Mistakes made in providing patients with the appropriate marijuana product, or in providing instructions on use, could lead to injuries and potentially even death.
Potential for Lawsuits
As of now, there have not been any reported medical malpractice lawsuits linked to medical marijuana. However, given the increasing popularity of the drug and the growing use of marijuana for a variety of medical conditions, there is a strong possibility of lawsuits in the future. Should a patient suffer an injury due to medical marijuana, it is possible he or she could file a lawsuit against the prescribing doctor or the dispensary. The doctor may be liable if he or she was negligent in diagnosing and prescribing medical marijuana if it led to the patient being harm. The dispensary could be liable if it was negligent in filling the prescription or advising the patient as to dosing or drug interactions.
Medical malpractice laws will need to adapt to meet the potential for litigation arising from medical marijuana use and distribution. Individual states may alter their rules concerning the dispensing of marijuana to ward off the potential for litigation. Medical marijuana users should stay abreast of the laws and contact an attorney if they believe they have suffered an injury or illness.