Tuesday, August 12, 2014

California Does Not Have A Medical Marijuana Recommendation Problem

By David Downs
Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 5:22 PM

California’s law enforcement leaders cannot say often enough that they think medical marijuana is a "con job," that it’s too easy to get a recommendation. They want to create new crimes for doctors who recommend the life-saving plant.

But neither law enforcement — nor the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board — is actually talking to the Medical Board of California, which oversees doctors in California.

Anyone can call the board and complain about a shady pot doctor handing out recommendations like Chiclets. Police claim it happens all the time. So we called the board this week and asked them: Is there a problem? The answer is a resounding "No."

Cassandra Hockenson, public affairs manager for the Medical Board of California, said the scourge of doctors recommending pot is a non-issue. The board doesn't even track pot-specific complaints. The word 'marijuana' is not mentioned once in the 2012-2013 med board enforcement report. Prescription drugs are mentioned, though.

Californians complain to the board mostly about physicians who over-prescribe opioids, which can kill you. (Pot has no overdose level.) They also complain a lot of about obstetricians. But weed?

click to enlarge No Smoke, No Fire: Despite police rhetoric, neither Californians nor police file many complaints with the Medical Board over recommendations. - DPA
  • DPA
  • No Smoke, No Fire: Despite police rhetoric, neither Californians nor police file many complaints with the Medical Board over recommendations.

“We don’t have our phone ringing off the hook over medical marijuana recommendations,” she told us. “Nope. But if there are problems we want to know about it.”

Cops complain they see seemingly healthy young people with recommendations, but simply being angry that an eighteen-year-old got a recommendation isn’t enough to start an investigation, she said. “There has to be more to it like gross negligence or not providing an adequate standard of care.”

We’ve heard of moms mad that their eighteen-year-old sons got a recommendation — but “that eighteen-year-old is an adult. He’s protected under HIPAA. If he got a proper examination and a recommendation was made, there’s no issue,” she said. 

“If somebody feels — whether it’s police officer or whoever — that somebody is not acting appropriately and they feel like [recommendations] are being handed out like Chiclets and proper exams aren’t being done, then they need to notify the medical board and we will look into it.”

“I understand police are upset about this,” she added. “I would be sure if an officer knows somebody they feel is abusing they would notify us. They have a great relationship with us.”

We're the first paper we know of to fact-check this fabricated "problem" by contacting the med board. There are more than 750,000 Californians with a medical marijuana recommendation, and bottom line: police aren't blowing up the med board with complaints. Citizens aren't blowing up the med board with complaints.

Meanwhile, law enforcement continue to adjudicate this issue in the press and the legislature, often with the press' help.

Californians deserve the facts, not more Drug War rhetoric.

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