Tag Archives: medical marijuana

Cannabis carpetbaggers crisscross California

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Redding Record Searchlight‘s Ryan Sabalow paints a classic tale of the principled old guard taking a stand against exploitative, profit-hungry carpetbaggers, one that just happens to take place in the wild west of northern California’s medical marijuana clinics. Since last year’s federal directive effectively allowed the state’s clinics to operate with impunity, a number of traveling physicians have come up from the south to open clinics in this northern outdoor recreation hub which more than 100,000 residents call home.

redding1At $150 for each brief exam (no tricky medical procedures involved), the granting of medical marijuana recommendations is low-overhead work that holds the promise of substantial profit. A physician would need to see just 30 patients a day to gross more than $1 million a year, Sabalow writes. One local Redding doctor (the only one who specializes in pot, really) has found that the newcomers seem to care more about money than medicine.

[Dr. Terrence Malee] gave the example of a cage fighter who came in to his office trying to intimidate him into getting a recommendation that allowed him to have 7 ounces of marijuana in a week, when most patients are only recommended 2.

“I said, ‘Look, bud, the last time you went to the doctor and asked him for 1,000 Vicodin, did he give it to you? No. Well, I’m not going to give you 7 ounces either,” Malee said, laughing.

In a companion piece, Sabalow looks beyond California’s borders, thanks in part to the responses of other AHCJ members via our electronic discussion list. In particular, he looks at Montana, where traveling “cannabis caravans” have swelled the ranks of medicinal marijuana users in every corner of the state and Colorado, where five doctors accounted for over half of the state’s medical marijuana recommendations.

The Record Searchlight‘s editorial board followed up with an piece that questions the wisdom of making medicinal marijuana so easy to obtain.

But it’s hard not to see a stretching of the state’s groundbreaking 1996 Compassionate Use Act beyond all recognition when patients arrive not thanks to a referral from their family doctor, but after hearing a 30-second ad on the local rock station.

For more on Colorado’s effort to reign in physicians who recommend medical marijuana, see Eric Whitney’s piece for Colorado Public Radio.

Lopez finds glamour in LA’s marijuana community

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez has released his latest dispatch from medical marijuana’s front lines.

doc420
The Medical License page of Dr. Sona Patel’s site, Doc420.com. Patel specializes in medical marijuana recommendations.

This time, Lopez checks in with a physician who specializes in herbal medicine, worked as a model to help pay her bills to attend a Caribbean medical school, wears high heels and a lab coat in her ornate gold-and-maroon office, and writes about 15 medical marijuana recommendations a day.

“I guarantee a 100% refund if you do not qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation,” she announces on her Web site, Doc420.com. The really crazy part about Dr. Sona Patel? Unlike some of her peers, she spends about half an hour on each appointment and actually turns down some of her patients’ requests.

In two earlier columns, Lopez tells the story of how he got a recommendation to purchase medical marijuana after a brief visit to a gynecologist and how he then used that recommendation to join a cooperative and legally purchase marijuana.

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Lopez: Gynecologist gave me permit to buy weed

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez writes about his trip to a clinic specializing in herbal medicine (known for “writing recommendations that allow folks to buy medical marijuana”).

reeferPhoto by Troy Holden via Flickr.

After explaining the back pain he’s suffered through for the past few decades, Lopez was issued a form announcing that “Steve Lopez was evaluated in my office for a medical condition, which in my professional opinion, may benefit from the use of medical marijuana.”

The doctor, who described himself as a gynecologist, billed Lopez $150 for the visit.

On Sunday, Lopez will publish a follow-up (his stories are archived here) about his marijuana dispensary shopping experience.

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