California’s Telehealth Advancement Act was signed into law in 2011, but the effects it’s having on the medical marijuana industry are just now beginning to show, according to Fresno’s The Business Journal.
Mark Hadfield is the CEO and founder of HelloMD, a telehealth provider in San Francisco, and has seen first-hand how this piece of legislation is changing the landscape of both the telehealth and medical marijuana industries.
“When we started offering online medical marijuana doctor consultations, we expected the majority of our customers to be existing recreational users seeking to become legal,” Hadfield said. “These new patients couldn’t be further from the typical stoner stereotype.”
Basically, the law allows people to be prescribed marijuana for medicinal use without ever leaving the comfort of their own homes. They meet and consult virtually with a doctor, who can write the prescription and have the cannabis delivered right to their homes.
Doctor Perry Solomon is the chief medical officer at HelloMD. In a press release published by PRNewswire.com, he described the new patients Hadfield referenced: middle-aged women, military veterans, professionals, and retirees.
“[They’re people] looking for alternative medicinal treatments to a wide variety of conditions spanning chronic pain through everyday anxiety and stress,” Solomon said. “All of them had heard about marijuana as an alternative, but found their general practitioner lacking the knowledge to offer good advice. They didn’t know where to go for more information on medical marijuana, who to talk with, or how to go about becoming a legal patient.”
While general information might have been the main reason people began searching, another benefit of telemedicine is accessibility. Many patients are unable to leave their home for health-related reasons; others are nervous about venturing to the parts of town where marijuana dispensaries are often located.
The telehealth industry is rapidly growing. The market is projected to increase from $240 million in 2013, to $1.9 billion in 2018. That number will likely only continue to climb along with the trend in symbiotic relationships between telehealth services and medical marijuana.
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