STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 5, 2014…. While the Obama administration has sent some signals to states that it won’t interfere with the implementation of medical marijuana laws, the Drug Enforcement Administration in recent weeks has visited doctors who hold administrative positions with companies seeking dispensary licenses in Massachusetts and told them to resign or risk losing their registration to prescribe controlled medications.
DEA officials have gone so far as to show up at the homes of doctors involved with prospective medical marijuana dispensaries, and at least two, but possibly more, physicians have already resigned their positions with medical marijuana organizations as a result, according to multiple sources.
"They’re going directly to the doctors, not setting up appointments, and giving them an ultimatum," said Valerio Romano, an attorney in Boston who represents several applicants for dispensary licenses in Massachusetts. Romano founded Massachusetts Marijuana Compliance, a part of the VGR Law Firm.
The full impact of the actions by the DEA on the fledgling medical marijuana industry in Massachusetts remains unclear, but those involved in the industry say they worry that it could not only delay the state Department of Public Health’s licensing process even further, but also spook those in the medical community, many of whom are already wary of their role in the implementation of the voter-approved law legalizing medical marijuana.
"The main problem that I see with all this is the rollout for the program is already five-plus months behind and if the applicants are amending their applications to remove directors or members of the executive management team, this will just force the DPH to relook at the plans the applicants have," Romano said.
Officials at the Department of Public Health said they have met with the DEA on drug diversion prevention issues related to registered marijuana dispensaries, but have not received any formal notification from the federal agency on warnings being given to doctors.
"Registered Marijuana Dispensaries are not required to have medical personnel on their management teams, and any doctor leaving the leadership team of an RMD would not cause any delays in the program or have an impact on applications beyond the additional time required to conduct background checks on replacement personnel," the DPH spokesman David Kibbe said in a statement. "When Registered Marijuana Dispensaries experience changes in leadership, they are required to notify DPH. Any new RMD personnel must go through a comprehensive background check as part of the Department’s standard process."
Paul Covell, the chief executive officer of the William Noyes Webster Foundation, said Dr. Carl Fulwiler, a Worcester psychiatrist and addiction specialist who was listed on the group’s dispensary license application as its substance abuse specialist, resigned after he was visited by the DEA last week.
"They told him you have to give up one or the other," Covell told the News Service.
I'm wondering because it would save me a lot of money I can't really afford. My recommendation was given to me last year in august, and since the new law went into effect shouldn't my rec from last year be valid for this year as well? I know 2 other patients who are in the same exact situation I am. Any input would be helpful.
Daniela Drake, a graduate from the prestigious Stanford medical school, shares her experiences as a California "Pot Doctor" and how she was transformed from a skeptic to an avid supporter of medical cannabis. Like many doctor's involved in medical marijuana certifications, she has witnessed first-hand the cruelties and hypocrisy of marijuana prosecution, these experiences have compelled her to speak out. Michigan readers will resonate with her poignant story and will hopefully glean important lessons therein.
Check out the article from the daily beast
By Michael Komorn
My thoughts on the recent charges against a medical marijuana-recommending doctor in Michigan, featured on the The Huffington Post Detroit's page.
Recently, the Michigan Attorney General's office filed a formal complaint with the Licensing and Regulation Division (LARA), alleging that a physician failed to require patients to produce medical records and "failed to maintain those records," prior to and after recommending patients for medical marijuana. The first question raised is, will the Attorney General's investigation extend to all doctors, or is this only an issue because it involves medical marijuana?
Through the four-year history of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), the physician certification process has been a hot topic, with opponents of the Act routinely criticizing this aspect of the law. To some, these doctors are helping patients find relief through medical marijuana in light of professional risk, complaints and potential criminal investigations. Opponents, however, maintain that obtaining one's medical marijuana card is too easy, citing that as of one year ago, more than 90 percent of the state's 64,000 patients were using medical marijuana to treat severe pain, muscle spasms or nausea. A year later, the state has more than 130,000 registered medical marijuana patients.
One fact often overlooked is that LARA has an entire page on its website devoted to pain management, and nearly 30 percent of Michigan's residents have sought treatment for an acute pain condition in the past year.
The current legislative process and proposed bills being discussed in Michigan's House and Senate are opening a potentially dangerous debate, not trusting physicians to make the right decision and injecting politics into our right to privacy in healthcare. No other prescription or diagnosis is as scrutinized as a medical marijuana recommendation, despite doctors being tasked with control, regulation and administering thousands of other substances throughout their careers.
If Michigan policymakers truly want to protect the medical marijuana community and ensure safe access to medicine, they need to focus on amending the Public Health Code, not the MMMA or attacking those recommending the medicine. Doing so would first allow and recognize the use of medical marijuana and protect recommending physicians, preventing physicians from shying away from medical marijuana for fear of prosecution.
The issue of medical marijuana is a public health issue, not a public safety issue. In order for the MMMA to truly work as intended, and to give the voters of Michigan what they approved, the state needs to trust and rely on board-certified physicians, not politicians, to make proper decisions about the use and recommendation of medical marijuana.
Michael A. Komorn
Attorney and Counselor
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