Medical marijuana: Nearly 2,000 MMJ patient recommendations nixed over quiet rule change
Dean has a condition on her license that requires OB/GYN charts for her patients to be reviewed for eighteen months. She declines to provide specifics about what this twenty-year medical veteran calls the "witch hunt" that led to the determination, although HealthGrades.com reports that in March 2008, she "failed to meet the standard of care in her treatment of a patient in which the physician had provided prenatal care, operative delivery of a male infant, and postpartum care.
Although more than eighteen months have passed since March 2008, the clock hasn't started ticking because Dean has been unable to find a job in her area of specialty. So last September, she began working for a clinic that focuses on medical marijuana recommendations. (She declines to name the business.) She stresses that the condition on her license doesn't prevent her from any other areas of practice. "I can write prescriptions for Oxycontin," she says. "I can write prescriptions for Percocet. I can write prescriptions for Vicodin."
She also wrote recommendations for medical marijuana, seeing thousands of patients over the course of the past year-plus, by her estimate. She adds that she phoned the state's Medical Marijuana Registry both before and after the passage of SB 109 to make sure that she could continue doing so, and she says she was reassured that "everything was fine."
But then, in recent days, she started getting calls from patients saying their card applications had been rejected because she was not qualified to recommend MMJ. "We're getting threats. Not physical threats, but, 'We're going to sue you for fraud, because you've stolen our money,'" she notes -- an assertion borne out by posts on local marijuana message boards like this one. "They're up in arms, and you can't blame them. But they don't realize the health department changed the rules in the middle of the game."
Health department spokesman Mark Salley doesn't put it quite that way -- but he does acknowledge that "when the state legislature was considering bills that further refined a bona fide doctor-patient relationship, and also further clarified the definition of a physician in good standing, we began holding applications that had physician authorizations from physicians who had a restriction or condition on their license."