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Legal marijuana and your medical license

Here's a question that may or may not be haunting you: Now that recreational marijuana is as legal as alcohol in California, can you smoke it and keep your medical license?

Luckily for you, the California Medical Board has been pretty clear about the issue. Physicians and other medical providers are permitted to smoke marijuana and use other legal cannabis products so long as they aren't impaired by its effects when they see patients.

In other words, the rules on marijuana use are just like the rules for alcohol. In your spare time (if you have any), you've always been free to have a few drinks. Now, you're equally free to smoke a joint or take cannabis edibles -- as long as you sober up before getting back to work. The mere fact that you use marijuana recreationally (or medicinally) won't cost you your license to practice.

That being said, it's wise to remember the other rules that govern the use of psychoactive substances. Just like with alcohol, getting caught driving under the influence of marijuana could easily cost you your ability to practice. In addition, if your marijuana use starts to become "self-abusive," you also run the risk of facing sanctions. Just like a doctor suffering from alcoholism, you could be forced to attend treatment, placed on probation, face a suspension from your practice or end up seeing your license revoked entirely.

In fact, it's already happened to at least 68 physicians. Between 2016 and 2017, the Board took that many actions against doctors for varying combinations of drug and alcohol abuse.

Are you concerned about how an issue in your private life is going to be treated by the California Medical Board? An attorney experienced in administrative law can help you better understand what's likely to happen -- and what you can do in response to mitigate the fallout.

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