Temporary rules governing Oregon's medical marijuana law, put in place last
summer after one doctor signed applications for more than 1,000 patients,
are scheduled to become permanent in January.

Before that happens, state health officials are asking the public whether
changes are needed to those rules.

Public hearings are scheduled in Eugene, Bend, Medford and Portland, and
state officials will accept written comments as well.

State officials have circulated copies of the draft rules to 5,000 people,
including doctors, patients, caregivers, legislators and law enforcers,
said Mary Leverette, special projects manager for the medical marijuana
program.

Last August, state officials said the rules were needed because of an
unnamed doctor who signed for "a disproportionately large number of
applicants."

They were referring to Dr. Phillip Leveque, a Molalla osteopath who has
become the doctor to see for hundreds of patients who can't get their
regular doctors to sign for them.

It's not known precisely how many patients Leveque has signed for to date.
He declined to comment for this story. But in late August, state officials
said they had 800 pending medical marijuana applications signed by Leveque,
in addition to the 935 applications he'd signed as of Aug. 8. Medical
marijuana cards expire after one year, so it's likely some pending
applications are for patients seeking renewals.

The temporary rules require a physician who signs a statement for a medical
marijuana applicant to have an established doctor-patient relationship with
the patient and meet one of four criteria: The physician must be primarily
responsible for the care and treatment of the patient; must be primarily
responsible for providing specialty care; has been asked to consult and
treat the patient by the patient's primary care physician; or has reviewed
the patient's medical records, conducted a physical examination, provided
or planned follow-up care, and documented those activities in the patient's
record.

Much of the criticism leveled at the rules last summer by doctors and
patient advocacy groups has waned.

The Oregon Medical Association was concerned about a provision that would
have authorized state officials to examine the original patient medical
file, or require a physician to provide a copy of the file, to confirm the
doctor-patient relationship.

The state since clarified that rule so patients would be asked to sign a
waiver authorizing the release of their medical records. If a patient
declines to sign a waiver, the application may be denied.

That change satisfies the Oregon Medical Association's concerns, said Jim
Kronenberg, the group's associate executive director.

"The bottom line is Oregon physicians, by statute, have a duty to maintain
confidentiality in relationships with patients, and that extends to medical
records," he said.

"If someone wants to review a patient's records, that has to be done with
the written permission of the patient. The new version (of the rules) does
that," Kronenberg said.

Todd Dalotto of the Compassion Center, a Eugene medical marijuana advocacy
group, said the current draft of the rules "is a lot more palatable" than
what was originally proposed.

But he said he remains concerned that state officials are spending so much
time and energy scrutinizing doctor-patient relationships while ignoring
other problems in the medical marijuana program.

"I think they should place more energy into making changes that are clear
and present issues for patients and their safety," he said.

For example, the state no longer provides applicants with a list of
patient-advocacy groups, he said. That leaves patients with no place to
turn for help in obtaining or growing medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana Rules

The state Department of Human Services is conducting public hearings around
Oregon on new rules for the state's medical marijuana program.

A copy of the draft rules can be found on the Internet at
www.ohd.hr.state.or.us"oaps"mm"oarhear.htm.

A Eugene hearing is at 10 a.m. on Dec. 6, City Council chambers, City Hall,
777 Pearl St.

Written comments may be sent to: Department of Human Services, Oregon
Medical Marijuana Program, P.O. Box 14450, Portland, OR 97293-9923.

The Compassion Center, a Eugene patient advocacy group, will help people
prepare spoken or written comments. Phone 484-6558.


Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Copyright: 2001 The Register-Guard
Contact: rgletters@guardnet.com
Website: http://www.registerguard.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/362
Author: Tim Christie
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmj.htm (Cannabis - Medicinal)