Health Care Professionals

Watch: Dr. Joe McSherry, M.D., Ph.D., a Vermont-based researcher and 2010 Recipient of Marijuana Policy Project Physician Advocate of the Year.

Dr. Joe McSherry, M.D., Ph.D., is a Neurologist who has extensive knowledge of research involving the medical benefits of cannabis and its cannabinoids for pain management, medicinal and therapeutic use.  He is a widely recognized academic expert on medical cannabis/cannabinoids and its many health benefits, and is also involved in several community service initiatives including his service on the State of Vermont’s Marijuana Oversight Committee.  Dr. McSherry is the author of numerous academic and public presentations on the medical use of cannabis/cannabinoids in general and as it relates to cancer and other specific medical conditions.  He received the Outstanding Physician Advocate Award from the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project in 2010. (via PRNewsWire)

Who is a Health Care Professional?

A health care professional is an individual licensed in Vermont to practice medicine under 26 V.S.A. chapter 23 or 33, an individual licensed as a naturopathic physician under 26 V.S.A. chapter 81 who has a special license endorsement authorizing the individual to prescribe, dispense, and administer prescription medicines to the extent that a diagnosis provided by a naturopath under this chapter is within the scope of his or her practice, an individual certified as a physician assistant under 26 V.S.A. chapter 31, or an individual licensed as an advanced practice registered nurse under 26 V.S.A. chapter 28.

  • Except for naturopaths, this definition includes individuals who are professionally licensed under substantially equivalent provisions in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, or New York.

Responsibilities of the Patient’s Health Care Professional

The only responsibilities of a health care professional with regards to the provisions of the Marijuana Registry is to verify that the patient has a debilitating medical condition and whether or not the health care professional has had a “bona fide health care professional-patient relationship” with the applicant. The phrase “Bona fide health care professional-patient relationship” means a treating or consulting relationship of not less than three months duration, in the course of which a health care professional has completed a full assessment of the registered patient’s medical history and current medical condition, including a personal physical examination. The three-month requirement shall not apply if a patient has been diagnosed with:

  • A terminal illness,
  • Cancer with distant metastases, or
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

 Debilitating Medical Condition

Patients with a specific disease or condition where reasonable medical efforts have been made over a reasonable amount of time without success to relieve the symptoms, means;

  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Chronic Pain
  • HIV
  • AIDS, or
  • Treatment of these conditions, if the disease or the treatment results in severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms;


  • A disease, medical condition, or its treatment that is chronic, debilitating, and produces severe, persistent, and one or more of the following intractable symptoms: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; or seizures.

Protections for Health Care Professionals

A health care professional who has participated in a patient’s application process under the statute, rules, policies or procedures of the Marijuana Registry shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or disciplinary action under 26 V.S.A. chapter 23, penalized in any manner, or denied any right or privilege under state law, except for giving false information, pursuant to  18 V.S.A. § 4474c(f).

Health Care Professionals are not prescribing or recommending the use of marijuana. They are verifying the nature of the disease and its symptoms.

Debilitating Medical Condition Ceases

When the registered patient’s certifying Health Care Professional notifies the department in writing that the registered patient has ceased to suffer from a debilitating medical condition, the patient’s registry identification card becomes void 10 days after the date shown on the department’s written notice to the patient at his or her last known address. A Health Care Professional may notify the Marijuana Registry by e-mail, if the registered patient they certified has ceased to suffer from a debilitating medical condition.

Privacy and Confidentiality

All applications and supporting information submitted by registered patients, including information regarding their caregiver and health care professional are confidential. Records maintained by the Department of Public Safety that identify applicants for a registry identification card, registered patients, registered caregivers, and registered patient’s health care professionals are confidential.

Required Forms

The required Health Care Professional Verification Form is required, pursuant Title 18 Sections 4473(b).  This form is available through the below link:

Accepted Health Care Professional types:

  • Physician (M.D. or D.O.)
  • Physician Assistant (P.A. or PA-C)
  • Vermont Naturopathic Physician (N.D.)
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

The VMR does not require specialized training for the listed Health Care Professionals to complete the form.

2016 Health Care Professional Testimony to VT Legislature:

Dr. Kalev Freeman, M.D. Ph.D., Director, Vermont Patients Alliance

Dr. Joe McSherry, M.D. Ph.D., Neurological Sciences, University of Vermont Medical Center

Source: Health Care Professional Information on the official Vermont Department of Public Safety page