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DHHR releases medical marijuana survey

By ERIN BECK

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources posted a medical marijuana survey online Wednesday.

State officials are trying to get an idea of the number of patients interested in medical marijuana and gather information about them. The West Virginia Legislature passed a law allowing doctors to recommend medical marijuana, and giving the DHHR regulatory oversight, during the 2017 legislative session.

(AP file photo)

In a statement, Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer, said the survey would “provide some insight as to the demographics of the potential patient population, where they are currently seeking care and for what conditions they will be seeking medical cannabis, along with what forms of medical cannabis they may choose to obtain.” He called it a “tool to gauge interest in obtaining medical cannabis.”

Gupta said later Wednesday that about 260 people had taken the survey within hours of its posting. The average completion time was four minutes.

DHHR employees told the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, during the last meeting, that surveys would help them:

  • Better understand the potential market for medical marijuana
  • Receive anecdotal information about patient interest and location
  • Obtain insight into the number of physicians interested in certifying patients
  • Assist in ensuring patients can access medical marijuana when DHHR permits dispensaries
  • Project revenue
  • Decide how much outreach is needed

They have said said the West Virginia Board of Medicine and West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine would email a provider survey to physicians.

Epidemiologists will analyze the data, to be presented to the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board by Dec. 31. The next meeting is on Dec. 14 in Morgantown.

Gupta noted that state officials also will gather information from Medicaid and PEIA. They are gathering zip code data of people diagnosed with serious medical conditions, as defined in the law.

He also noted that they are collecting information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which tracks the locations of people who use medical equipment that requires electricity, including those who use wheelchairs and cardiac devices, or who require oxygen tanks.

While survey participants are self-selected — meaning the survey is not random and people choose to take it — Gupta noted that the survey is looking for people with certain serious conditions who already are interested in medical marijuana. He said that while the survey is non-scientific, it will help state officials get “a general idea” and noted that it “isn’t going to be used in isolation.”

People can find the survey at www.medcanwv.org. The survey is anonymous. Taking the survey does not register you as a medical marijuana patient.

Reach Erin Beck at [email protected], 304-348-5163, Facebook.com/erinbeckwv or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.
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