In a June 7 post, Arizoneout reported on Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Director Will Humble’s outreach to physicians on the requirements for certifying Qualified Patients (QPs) eligible to use marijuana under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). While seeking to educate physicians, ADHS also warned then that it would monitor demographics and report physicians suspected of unprofessional conduct to their licensing boards.
Director Humble has followed through on his threat. On August 19, 2011, Humble announced that he and his Chief Medical Officer, Laura Nelson, M.D., had written letters to the licensing boards of 8 physicians, 3 of them M.D.s and 5 of them naturopaths. Humble did not identify the physicians in a post to his blog, but he did say that among them, the eight physicians accounted for nearly half of the 10,000 medical marijuana certifications ADHS has received since the program started taking applications in April 2011.
The certification form requires a physician to affirm that he has checked the QP’s profile on the Arizona Board of Pharmacy’s Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program database. Director Humble had identified 10 physicians who had issued more than 200 certifications each, and then checked with the Board of Pharmacy to see if the 10 physicians have been logging in and checking the database as they have attested. The reports he got back from the Board of Pharmacy caused him to report that it appears that 8 of the 10 physicians were making false statements in their certifications.
According to a story in the August 20, 2011 Arizona Republic, one physician issued more than 1,000 recommendations, yet checked the database only 56 times. Three physicians had never even accessed the database. Humble said it was obvious the physicians were not acting “on the up and up.”