Canfield psychiatrist first Valley provider awarded medical mari - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Canfield psychiatrist first Valley provider awarded medical marijuana license

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One Valley psychiatrist made the first list of doctors awarded licenses to recommend medical marijuana to patients in the state. 

Dr. Rajendra Koirala, who currently practices at Northeast Behavioral Health in Canfield, was the only Valley doctor on a list of physicians who received their licenses in order to potentially prescribe medical marijuana to patients. 

Dr. Koirala, a licensed psychiatrist, received his medical license through the Ohio State Medical Board in 2008, after completing an internship in psychiatry at Drexel University.  

Since then, Dr. Koirala has become affiliated with several locations throughout the Valley. 

Beginning in September, when Ohio's medical marijuana program is slated to begin, Dr. Koirala will be able to potentially prescribe pot to patients out of his Starr's Centre Drive location. 

An office manager at Northeast Behavioral Health told 21 News that they are already planning on Dr. Koirala being in the office and additional day every week. The manager said they plan to take the whole process one step at a time since everything is so brand new. 

A separate, but related LLC which sits next door to the psychiatry office, named Heaven and Herbs will be used to fill prescriptions for patients. 

Mercy Health responded to queries saying Dr. Koirala is not employed through their system, but is listed as one of their network providers. 

When asked for a statement on Dr. Koirala's new licensure Mercy Health responded to 21 News saying:

 "We understand that Ohio-based physicians who wish to prescribe marijuana must undergo a two-hour training program offered by the State of Ohio and only allows physicians to recommend the substance, not prescribe. Marijuana remains illegal under Federal law and the Federal government has indicated it will enforce federal laws against the drug in states that have decriminalized its production and sale, including for medical purposes. Given that, Mercy Health is not at this time asking its physicians to undergo the two-hour training program."

Lists of additional prescribers licensed to recommend medical marijuana are expected to be released on a monthly basis as applications get approved, according to the State Medical Board. 

In order to be licensed to provide medical marijuana referrals, physicians must hold an active, unrestricted MD or DO license from the State Medical Board of Ohio.

Additionally, physicians who apply will need to complete at least two hours of continuing medical education that will assist in diagnosing qualifying conditions, treating those conditions with medical marijuana and possible drug interactions. 

Doctors will then need to renew their licenses when their license to practice as a physician or osteopathic physician is renewed or restored. For renewal, they must also complete two-hours of continuing education classes in medical marijuana annually. 

Those who to apply to become certified recommenders for medical marijuana cannot have any part in the ownership or an investment interest with medical marijuana companies, dispensaries, or cultivators. 

Certified physicians may recommend medical marijuana only for the treatment of a qualifying medical condition. 

Under Ohio law, all of the following are qualifying medical conditions:

amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Alzheimer's disease
chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Crohn's disease
epilepsy or another seizure disorder
hepatitis C
inflammatory bowel disease
multiple sclerosis
pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable
Parkinson's disease
positive status for HIV
post-traumatic stress disorder
sickle cell anemia
spinal cord disease or injury
Tourette's syndrome
traumatic brain injury
ulcerative colitis

The state of Ohio has also awarded one million dollars to a New Jersey company to operate a toll-free helpline for patients, caregivers, and doctors using Ohio's new medical marijuana program. 

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