UPMC, the number one ranked hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has created new guidelines for the hospital’s doctors who would like to certify patients for medical marijuana.

The vice chair of pain medicine at UPMC, Dr. Ajay Wasan, told the Tribune-Review, “We think it will help providers, who were thinking about certifying patients, make their decision. The shift is that it has become more and more clear that medical marijuana is really an important issue to patients. They have great concerns over it and our health care system wants to be a partner with patients to do what is best for them.”

Wasan co-chaired a UPMC committee that recently finalized medical marijuana guidelines for treating pain and are being distributed to thousands of doctors this week.

Doctors in the state of Pennsylvania have to register with the state Department of Health and take a four-hour training course, before they can certify patients for medical marijuana.

“Because the process of certifying for medical marijuana is part of a process of evaluating and treating chronic pain, there will not be a separate charge,” explained Wasan. “The visit will be embedded within a larger process of chronic pain evaluation and treatment.”

Pittsburgh attorney Patrick Nightingale, executive director of the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society remarked, “If physicians are unwilling to register then patients cannot have access to the program,” he said. “Therefore, I am very heartened to hear that our largest medical care provider here in southwestern Pennsylvania is permitting it’s physicians to register.”

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