Last updated on: 6/26/2008 | Author:

California Medical Board

May 13, 2004 Press Release on Medical Marijuana

“Medical Board Reaffirms its Commitment to Physicians Who Recommend Medical Marijuana

Board adopts statement clarifying implementation of California’s Compassionate Use Act to insure California’s physicians and consumers receive appropriate guidance under the law

SACRAMENTO The Medical Board of California marked a milestone for California consumers and physicians by adopting a statement clarifying that the recommendation of medical marijuana by physicians in their medical practice will not have any effect against their physician’s license if they follow good medical practice.

“The intent of the statement is to clearly and succinctly reassure physicians that if they use the same proper care in recommending medical marijuana to their patients as they would any other medication or treatment, their activity will be viewed by the Medical Board just as any other appropriate medical intervention,” said Hazem Chehabi, M.D., immediate past president of the board. “This is consistent with the board’s mission to protect and advance the interests of California patients.”

In Nov. 1996, the voters of California passed Proposition 215, the “Compassionate Use Act of 1996.” The purposes of the act were “to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where the medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person’s health would benefit from the use of marijuana….and to ensure that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.”

In Jan. 1997 the Medical Board published standards for physicians when recommending medical marijuana. According to the board’s new statement, consultation should include:

  • History and good faith examination of the patient
  • Development of a treatment plan with objectives
  • Provision of informed consent including discussion of side effects
  • Periodic review of the treatment’s efficacy
  • Consultation, as necessary
  • Proper record keeping that supports the decision to recommend the use of medical marijuana

“The clarification of the guidelines regarding the recommendation for the use of medical marijuana assists both physicians and patients,” said Dr. Chehabi. “Establishing clearly defined guidelines will allow the medical community to concentrate on the important medical needs of the patient and end the confusion about when recommendation of medical marijuana is appropriate.”

According to testimony received by the board at its hearing on this issue last week, the author of the Act, Dennis Peron, supported the board’s efforts to implement the law and assist California’s physicians and their patients who receive a recommendation for the use of medical marijuana. “The Medical Board is in a unique position to guide physicians and patients on the proper standards for medical intervention for those who can benefit from treatment using medical marijuana,” stated Mr. Peron. “I applaud the board’s efforts and hope their action puts an end to the controversy that has surrounded this issue since California citizens voted to support the Compassionate Use Act.”

For a copy of the Medical Board’s statement, please contact the board’s information officer, Candis Cohen, at (916) 263-2394.


The mission of the Medical Board is to protect healthcare consumers through the proper licensing and regulation of physicians and surgeons and certain allied healthcare professions and through the vigorous, objective enforcement of the Medical Practice Act.

If you have a question or complaint about the healthcare you are receiving, the Board encourages you to visit its Web site at or for questions call the Consumer Information Line at (916) 263-2382, or with complaints call (800) 633-2322.”