When about 350 rejection letters go out this month, Oregon's troubled
medical marijuana program hopes to close the book on a backlog of
applications signed by a Molalla osteopath.

Today was the original deadline for nearly 900 patients to more fully
document their applications signed by Dr. Phillip Leveque, the
78-year-old retired osteopath. Leveque is the authorizing physician
for about 40 percent of the approved marijuana cards in Oregon. Though
no new deadline has been imposed, authorities hope to finish the
verification process by the end of the month.

Leveque is under investigation by the Oregon Board of Medical
Examiners for alleged inattention to patients for whom he signed
requests for medical marijuana. For example, the board is
investigating whether he signed a teen-ager's medical marijuana
application without examining her, diagnosing her condition or
conferring with her other doctors.

In October, state health officials sent letters to nearly 900 patients
whose applications were signed by Leveque. The letters asked
applicants for fuller documentation of their need for medical
marijuana and written evidence of a doctor-patient
relationship.

Leveque had told state authorities he kept no detailed medical records
on the patients. In many cases, his authorization was based on a
telephone conversation.

Leveque said he didn't do physical exams for several hundred
applicants because they lived out of town and an exam wasn't
explicitly required until now.

"If somebody lives in Ontario or Brookings, are they going to have to
come all this way just to see me for 15 minutes?" he said. "It seems a
little bit absurd."

Under new rules proposed by the state last summer, the authorizing
doctor must review the patient's medical record, examine the patient
and keep a written file.

The Jan. 15 deadline is being hedged, in effect, because neither side
could meet it. Leveque has been able to examine only about 400 of the
900 patients. And state officials have had trouble keeping up with the
slew of paperwork.

The delay gives officials a few extra days to screen applications and
send out all the denials at once.

"The backlog will be cleaned up by the end of the month," said Dr.
Grant Higginson, state public health officer.

"We're anticipating we'll have to send out about 350 denial letters,"
said Chris Campbell, acting manager of the medical marijuana program.
He said the letters would be sent within two weeks to patients whose
documentation was either not filed or was incomplete.

Of the other 550 applicants, most have received marijuana cards.
Another 63 asked to withdraw from the program.

To verify the signatures on new applications, the state sends a letter
to the authorizing doctor. Campbell said the letters ask: "Is this
really your patient, and do you agree they have a debilitating illness
treatable with marijuana?"

Leveque said he received about 150 of the verification letters in
Saturday's mail.

Under Oregon's 3-year-old Medical Marijuana Act, residents can apply
for a card allowing them to grow and use marijuana for medical
purposes. The fee is $150. The application requires a doctor's
signature to verify that the patient has a "debilitating medical
condition" such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or severe pain.

As of Monday, 1,838 Oregonians had medical marijuana cards.


Newshawk: Krissy http://www.mpp.org
Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jan 2002
Source: Oregonian, The (OR)
Copyright: 2002 The Oregonian
Contact: letters@news.oregonian.com
Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/324
Author: Don Colburn
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/people/Phillip+Leveque