Cannabis News Media Awareness Project
  Marijuana Doctor Loses License
Posted by CN Staff on October 20, 2004 at 20:51:34 PT
By Andrew Kramer, The Associated Press  
Source: Associated Press  

medical Portland, Ore. -- The doctor who signed a third of all medical marijuana cards in Oregon lost his license to practice medicine on Wednesday, in what medical regulators and advocates for the drug say marked the first such case in the nine states where marijuana is legal as a medicine.

Dr. Phillip Leveque, 81, a Molalla osteopath, was placed on probation in 2002 for signing medical marijuana applications for patients he had not examined in person and whose medical history he had not reviewed.

Leveque's practice was limited to examining patients for medical marijuana applications, often at large gatherings at hotels around the state.

He also hosted a cable access television show called "Ask Dr. Leveque," in which callers would check to see if their ailments would qualify them for a medical marijuana card.

Leveque said he has signed some 4,000 applications, 33 percent of the 12,000 cards issued in the state.

The Oregon Medical Board objected. In one case, investigators said, Leveque recommended medical marijuana for a 14-year-old girl with a history of depression. He had also signed cards for people who sent a description of their medical problem to him by fax.

The board suspended Leveque's license in March for failing to abide by a 2002 probationary agreement to sign cards only after conducting physicals and reviewing medical records. At an October 15 meeting, the board decided to revoke his license; Leveque was notified of the decision Wednesday.

"They can't go after the patients, so they're going after the doctors," Leveque said. He said he would appeal the decision.

The board also fined Leveque $5,000 and will bill him for the cost of a court hearing, said Kathleen Haley, executive director of the Oregon Medical Board.

Haley said she knew of no other case of a doctor losing a license for practices related to medical marijuana.

"The board does want patients to have adequate pain control," Haley said. "At the same time, they want to be sure the physician is upholding their responsibility to be sure of the diagnosis.

"It's a sad day when you have to revoke a license after a long career."

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML Foundation, a Washington, D.C.- based group which advocates greater access to medical marijuana, said he has never heard of a doctor losing his license in such a way. He said, however, that roughly a dozen doctors in California are being investigated because of their marijuana recommendations.

Medical marijuana advocates criticized the board's decision, saying medical regulators are more strict with doctors who recommend marijuana than with those who prescribe other drugs.

"There's a problem when a lot of physicians are afraid or uneasy," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Washington-D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. "A small number of doctors are willing to stick their neck out. It becomes a difficult situation for all."

Besides, said Oregon medical marijuana advocate John Sajo, Dr. Leveque never had a single complaint from his thousands of patients.

"Dr. Leveque didn't hurt any patients. And he never had any complaints, which is the typical reason a doctor is disciplined," Sajo said.

Source: Associated Press
Author: Andrew Kramer, The Associated Press
Published: October 20, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Associated Press

Related Articles & Web Sites:


Marijuana Policy Project

Medical Marijuana Information Links

State Suspends 'Marijuana Doctor' Leveque

Oregon Doctors License Suspended for Cards

Oregon Doctor Stands Out in MMJ Prescription

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Comment #7 posted by waynerson on October 29, 2004 at 05:33:12 PT:

He was my first O.M.M.P. Doctor.
Dr. Leveque was the only Doctor that took the time to REALLY help me. All the other ones just wanted to push " Prescription Narcotics " With rotton said effects!That distroy your body! That is why today,I must see a surgeon today to have a KIDNEY REMOVED!I have chronic degenerative spine disorder.I have been taking Legal Federally Approved Drugs for 20 years.... Look what it did for me!!! God Bless Dr. Leveque! Medical Marijuana Supporters, Keep Up The Good Fight.These are our bodys and lives! NOT THE GOVERNMENTS!

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Comment #6 posted by FoM on October 25, 2004 at 17:20:24 PT
Related Article from CounterPunch
Pot Shots: Oregon Revokes Dr. Leveque's License

By Fred Gardner

October 25, 2004

Phil Leveque of Molalla, Oregon, is the first doctor in any of the states that have legalized marijuana for medical use to lose his license for recommending it. Leveque received a formal notice of revocation from the Board of Medical Examiners Oct. 20. He has 30 days to appeal, and will.

The Board's action came as Oregonians prepare to vote on an initiative to legalize cannabis dispensaries and increase the amount patients can grow and possess.

Leveque, for those of you just joining us, is the Tod Mikuriya of Oregon. Mikuriya, 71, is a Berkeley-based psychiatrist who helped draft California's medical marijuana initiative in 1996 and then, after the voters enacted it, made himself available to a flood of patients who were afraid to discuss their cannabis use with their regular doctors, or whose doctors had turned down their requests for approval.

Mikuriya was singled out for scrutiny by the state Attorney General's office. He was investigated by the Medical Board and ultimately found to be violating the standard of care by not conducting physicals, keeping inadequate records, and issuing forms stating that patients were under his care when he was not their primary-care provider. Mikuriya was placed on five years' probation, during which time his practice must be monitored by a colleague, and order to pay a $75,000 fine.

None of the complaints against Mikuriya had come from a patient or a patient's loved one -they all came from law enforcement agents. Nor did any of the complaints allege that a patient had been harmed by Mikuriya's approval of their cannabis use.

Leveque, 81, is a doctor of osteopathy with a PhD in pharmacology, which he spent most of his career teaching at the medical-school level. He was a prominent supporter of Oregon's 1998 medical marijuana initiative, and when it passed he became the doctor of last resort for thousands of patients. He was investigated by the Board of Medical Examiners and his license was suspended for three months, May-July 2002, for failure to conduct physical exams and keep adequate records. When he resumed practice it was in concert with a nurse practitioner authorized to conduct physical exams, and clinic operators committed to thorough record keeping. By the spring of 2003 some 6,500 Oregonians had gotten medical marijuana cards through the state program, and more than half of them had submitted applications signed by Leveque, who assumed that his problems with the Board were in the past.

In March of this year Leveque's license was suspended, based on complaints that he had violated the standard of care in his treatment of six patients. None of the patients had complained, and no allegations of harm were made on their behalf. All but one of the complaints came from other doctors objecting to Leveque's role in helping their patients obtain cannabis. (This is the most notable difference between Leveque's martyrdom and Mikuriya's.) At a hearing in May before the Board's administrative law judge, Leveque's lawyers called Rick Bayer, M.D. as an expert witness. Bayer's defense of Leveque's decision to approve cannabis use, patient by patient, exposed the Board's bias eloquently and succinctly. Too bad the fix was in.

Patient A was most problematic--a woman employed by a state agency who sometimes drove heavy equipment. Leveque, according to his accusers, "signed a form attesting to the employer that she could safely function on the job while under the influence of marijuana." But, Bayer pointed out, "The BME admits Dr. Leveque told her not to smoke marijuana within four hours of going to work Dr. Leveque was following a standard that any doctor might follow who reads certain references." Bayer went on to cite a few to the effect that cannabinoid levels returned to baseline within four hours after smoking.

Patient B was described by the Board as having "a history of psychosis, hallucinations, multiple admissions to the VA hospital and was frequently noncompliant with medication regimens prescribed by physciains treating his pain." Leveque allegedly "did not request complete medical records, failed to conduct a mental health history, and did not consult with his care providers."

Bayer notes, "Sometimes 'noncompliance is due to adverse effects, inability to pay, miscommunication or the underlying illness. Noncompliance should not be pejorative." And "Often, patients do not want consultants to share information with other providers and that is within the patient's right to privacy Dr. Leveque did not jeopardize the health and safety of this patient by signing application to remove criminal penalties for something with a brachial plexus injury who reported good pain relief from therapeutic cannabis. It is also difficult to understand why treating pain and decriminalizing or 'medicalizing' anyone for his/her medicine -even if they have a history of substance abuse- is endangering that patient. Patients should never be prohibited from receiving adequate pain and symptom control One might interpret a patient reporting success for three years before signing an application as good evidence of ability to tolerate cannabis It is very important to realize that nearly all of Dr. Leveque's signatures on application forms are for patients who have reported a history of success with medical cannabis."

Patient C presented "with complaints of chronic pain, a history of marijuana use, and adverse consequences associated with that use, to include prison time sentences for drug related offenses. Patient C said he used marijuana three to four times per day for four years. Patient C's primary physician contacted licensee [Leveque] to inform him that this patient was not an appropriate candidate for medical marijuana. Nevertheless, Licensee conducted an inadequate history and physical examination, failed to establish a diagnosis or discuss treatment alternatives, risks or benefits, and signed the Attending Physician Statement form attesting that 'Cannabis gives best relief.'"

Bayer responded, "Dr. Leveque reports the patient has painful spine disease and hepatitis C. He has used regularly for four years and reports success with controlling his pain. It is unethical if prison time related to our prohibitionist politics should determine clinical therapeutics. It is not uncommon that physicians disagree on therapy and patient's doctor is certainly free to call and talk to the patient as to why marijuana is a bad idea. Ultimately it should be the patient's decision as to which doctor's advice s/he chooses Many patients who have seen Dr. Leveque feel they get a good history and physical exam -much more than they get from other doctors."

Patient D, a 19-year-old male, "presented with complaints of chronic pain and nausea and a history of using marijuana six times a day for four years as well as using stolen pharmaceutical opiates and LSD," according to the Board. "Patient D's history included a pattern of violent outbursts that caused his mother and sister, for their own safety, to leave the house where they resided. Licensee disregarded the patient's history of possible substance abuse or dependence, failed to conduct an adequate examination, consider treatment alternatives or establish a diagnosis and signed the Attending Physician Statement form attesting that 'Cannabis gives best relief.' Licensee failed to follow this patient. Patient D's mother subsequently observed that Patient D's pattern of behavior was to smoke marijuana from the time he awoke in the morning until he went to be at night. Patient D was ultimately hospitalized for seizures that may have been related to his use of marijuana."

Complete Article:

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Comment #5 posted by siege on October 21, 2004 at 07:32:07 PT
What did the D E A do to the The Oregon Medical Board to make them fall in line with the gov't's Bad Service to the PEOPLE of the state or what did they promise these ((Quicks)) on the board. Did they tell them they would leave them alone if they Fu** over Dr. Leveque and put him out of WORK so citizens ((Agency Mission: Protect the health, safety, and well being of Oregon citizens by regulating the practice of medicine in a manner that promotes quality care)) **so they can't get there medicine**. BUSH just keeps puting people out of work one way or the other. Protect Oregon medical patients from incompetent, and/or unethical medical practices of the "Oregon Medical Board's" incompetent. If the Gov't. wanted us to have brains, they would have issued them! Personally, I (Medical Board) enjoy being a brainless fascist robot. Saves having to deal with questions of right and wrong. In the future The Board may want to reconsider restating its highest level goals and work for the citizens of Oregon again and not for the D E A .

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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on October 21, 2004 at 06:40:28 PT
It's all the context - ooooh, he prescribed it to a 14-year-old GIRL for DEPRESSION! That's not really being sick, right?

Now consider that fact against the fact that 6 MILLION kids younger than the girl above are taking anti-depressants meds that build up in your body for a month and directly re-route your brain chemistry 24 hours a day, or Ritalin, which is basically prescription speed/cocaine.

Now, does Dr. Leveque seem bad?

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by gloovins on October 20, 2004 at 22:56:28 PT
a tragedy
no reason for this -- This Doctor is trying to help.

Leave him alone...he is HELPING people, young and old.

Ever hear of "First do no harm..?" anyone?

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by Druid on October 20, 2004 at 21:32:59 PT
Horrible. I am terribly saddened by this news.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 20, 2004 at 20:53:41 PT
This Is Terrible News
This should not happen. This must stop!

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