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MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROPOSALS CRITICIZED

T

The420Guy

Guest
State health authorities are overreaching their authority and creating
hardships for medical marijuana patients by unfairly singling out one
physician for scrutiny, patients and advocates said Thursday.

More than 20 people testified at a three-hour hearing in the Atrium
building in downtown Eugene. It was the third of four hearings conducted
around the state on proposed changes to rules that spell out how Oregon's
groundbreaking medical marijuana program is administered.

State health officials imposed the rules last summer after news reports
that a single physician, Dr. Philip Leveque of Molalla, had signed
applications for more than 900 medical marijuana patients. That number has
since increased and represents more than 40 percent of the applications the
state has received since the law took effect in 1999.

Many speakers were critical - and some were downright angry - about the
proposed changes, saying that state health officials were making life
difficult for sick people and violating their privacy.

"Because my doctor is a controversial one, my due process has been
usurped," said one man who identified himself only as "Joe Citizen."

Because Leveque kept no medical records for the patients he signed for,
state health officials said they had no way of confirming whether he was
their attending physician, as the law requires.

The rules clarify what an attending physician is: He or she at minimum must
review the patient's medical records, conduct a physical examination,
arrange for follow-up care and document care in a medical record.

The rules also spell out when and how the state will investigate if
officials suspect a doctor or patient of trying to defraud the program.

The new rules prompted Leveque to conduct a series of clinics around the
state in recent months, including in Eugene, examining and documenting care
for patients whose applications he previously signed.

Todd Dalotto, director of the Compassion Center, a Eugene patient advocacy
group, said the problem was not that a single doctor was signing for a
large number of patients, but that so few doctors were willing to sign
applications for their patients.

"The department should be studying the problem and figuring out a way to
increase physician participation," he said.

Ed Glick, a registered nurse from Corvallis, said the proposed rules "have
erected obstacles and barriers to patients participating in the marijuana
registry program and lack compassion.

"By not adopting any rule to promote physician participation, while
devising methods to exclude patients, the Health Division disserves those
patients," he said.

"There are many doctors who are very afraid to sign these papers," said
Sterlin Stapp of Eugene. "These doctors need some protection. They also
need education."

Jeffrey Sears, a Eugene medical marijuana patient, gave a long statement
explaining his travails involving his doctor, the police and the medical
marijuana program. He decried the $150 annual fee the state requires of
patients, likening it to a bribe to keep the police off patients' backs.

"The Oregon Health Division runs the (medical marijuana program) like a
Mafia protection racket," he said.

Several people objected to a provision authorizing the department to
investigate suspected fraud on the part of doctors or patients.

Brian Michaels, a Eugene attorney who has helped a number of people obtain
medical marijuana cards, said the rules ostensibly are meant to prevent
fraud but in reality will punish patients.

The Department of Human Services has no business investigating doctors and
their relationships with patients, he said.

"You need to let the Board of Medical Examiners do their job and you do
your job," he said.

Instead of demanding to inspect a patient's medical records to confirm an
attending physician relationship, the state need only ask the doctor to
provide a sworn statement to that effect, he said.

Mary Leverette, special projects manager for the medical marijuana program,
said after the hearing that the rules specify that state officials will
review medical records only when there's suspicion of fraud, and only when
patients consent to have their medical records reviewed.

Final rules are expected to be adopted by Jan. 15.

WHAT'S NEXT

Jill Laney, an independent hearings officer, will conduct the last of four
hearings Monday in Portland on proposed changes to rules governing Oregon's
medical marijuana law.

Laney will write a report and make a set of non-binding recommendations to
Dr. Grant Higginson, state public health officer.

Higginson, after consulting with his bosses at the Department of Human
Services, will adopt a revised set of rules by Jan. 15.

Written comments may be submitted through Monday to the DHS Medical
Marijuana Program, P.O. Box 14450, Portland, 97293-9929.

A copy of the draft is on the Internet at
www.ohd.hr.state.or.us"oaps"mm"oarhear.htm or can be obtained by calling
(503) 731-4002, Ext. 233.


Newshawk: Terry Liittschwager
Pubdate: Fri, 07 Dec 2001
Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Copyright: 2001 The Register-Guard
Contact: rgletters@guardnet.com
Website: Breaking local news, news updates, sports, business and weather | Eugene, Oregon
Details: Overload Warning
Author: Tim Christie, The Register-Guard
Bookmark: Overload Warning (Cannabis - Medicinal)
 
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