Colorado: Judge Blocks Doctors Suspension by Medical Board

26 July 2016

The Cannabist reports

A Denver judge on Friday temporarily blocked the suspensions of four doctors who were the first in the state to be punished for allegedly over-recommending high plant counts to medical marijuana patients.

The doctors, though, won’t be allowed to make official medical marijuana recommendations until their disciplinary cases are resolved.

“It was a fair decision by the judge,” Dr. Robert Maiocco, one of the four suspended doctors, said after a Friday court hearing.

The ruling from Denver District Court Judge Ross Buchanan is a setback to the Colorado Medical Board’s efforts to crack down on doctors who sign off on large plant counts. The four doctors were the first in the state to be punished for such activity, a lawyer for the Medical Board said at Friday’s hearing.

The doctors, though, said state health officials arbitrarily selected a number of plants per patient that would bring about scrutiny — 75 — and then didn’t tell doctors about it, making it basically an unwritten rule. Russell Klein, an attorney for the Medical Board, defended the approach because, he said, the board has the authority, “to determine whether certain actions by physicians meet the standard of care.”

But Buchanan was unswayed.

“If they’re the first physicians,” he asked, “and they literally find out the morning they’re told to stop practicing, that isn’t fair, is it?”

Buchanan’s ruling comes in the first round of what could be a long fight. The doctors have the ability to request a hearing before the Medical Board and then take the matter to the state’s administrative courts system. Or, they could proceed forward with their lawsuit against the Medical Board in Denver District Court in the hopes of winning a permanent injunction against the suspensions.

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