Health care providers navigate medical marijuana prescriptions for patients | News


PADUCAH — Medical marijuana is once again under consideration by the Kentucky legislature. After failing in 2020 and 2022, state lawmakers will vote on whether to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order late last year allowing people to get a written certification to buy medical marijuana. It’s still illegal to sell medical marijuana in Kentucky, so people will have to go to a state where it is legal to purchase it. 

While the legislature mulls over legalization, Beshear’s order gives health care providers an avenue to give out the necessary certificates. Michael Newkirk, vice president of physician services with Baptist Health Medical Group, says they don’t have a specific policy in place for this. Instead, they allow their physicians’ the discretion to handle it on a case-by-case basis for patients.

“What we have done is try to educate our providers to understand the potential negative implications of a positive drug test for a patient, or the potential of being arrested with medical marijuana even though there may be a pardon,” Newkirk said.


Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s executive order went active Jan. 1 of this year.

Beshear’s executive order names several medical conditions which would qualify like cancer, epilepsy and chronic pain, to name a few.

“I’ve talked to many, many of our docs, and there are some of them who say, ‘I would give this medical condition sheet to them for any other reason were they to have an employment issue or a medical disability problem. So, why would I not give them a statement that they have a certain medical condition?'” Newkirk said.

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Newkirk says the overall demand from patients hasn’t been high. However, he anticipates demand would go up if the legislature did pass Senate Bill 47, legalizing medical marijuana in the commonwealth. Some of Kentucky’s neighboring states — Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, and Missouri — have all legalized medical marijuana.

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