Third doc writing thousands of pot cards remains hidden
By Evan Lips | June 6, 2016, 19:30 EST
BOSTON — Sandwiched between two physicians recently disciplined for their roles in issuing a whopping 10,400 out of the nearly 30,000 medical marijuana licenses granted in Massachusetts is an unnamed doctor who could be next.
Katie Condon, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, didn’t respond to inquiries Monday as to who the doctor in question may be.
The total number of medical marijuana licenses, or cards, issued by about 150 doctors in Massachusetts since April 2015 stood at 29,974 as of April 30, according to state records. The first medical marijuana dispensary in the state opened in mid-2015.
Late last month, the board suspended Dr. John C. Nadolny, the medical director of the Canna Care Docs clinic group, alleging that he delegated his nontransferable authority “to diagnose patients as having a debilitating medical condition” to nurse practitioners en-route to issuing 5,792 of the medical marijuana cards.
Last week the board suspended another physician, Newton-based Dr. Tyrone Cushing, who regulators reportedly determined hadn’t examined a single patient en-route to issuing more than 4,600 medical marijuana cards. Cushing worked at the Framingham clinic run by Cannamed of Boston, reportedly for just two days a week.
The clinic on its Facebook page says: “Unfortunately Dr. Cushing is no longer working with Cannamed. We are seeking additional physicians to add to our wonderful staff. We appreciate the support from our patients and will continue to work in the best interest for the people of the State of Massachusetts. – The Cannamed Team”
In the board’s order on Cushing is a statement reportedly saying that he was responsible for issuing the third-most medical cannabis cards out of all the doctors currently licensed to issue the cards for the drug, which remains illegal under federal law. The certificates allow a patient to buy as much as 10 ounces every two months.
At 5,792 medical marijuana cards issued, Nadolny’s output accounted for about 1-in-5 of the cards issued through April, far exceeding while Cushing’s total.
So who is the other high-issuing doctor?
The question may be answered by the end of the week. Last Tuesday the NewBostonPost filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the board, asking for the names of each of the 149 doctors licensed to provide marijuana within the commonwealth and their corresponding output of cards.
On Wednesday, the state Department of Public Health acknowledged receipt of the request. Under state law, the department has 10 calendar days to respond.
According to state laws governing medical marijuana, doctors can only issue the dispensary cards “in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship,” defined under the law as “a relationship between a certifying physician (acting in the usual course of professional practice) and a patient, in which the physician has conducted a clinical visit, completed and documented a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, has explained the potential risks and benefits of the marijuana use, and has a role in the patient’s ongoing care and treatment.”
“A certifying physician cannot delegate to any other healthcare professional or other person the authority to diagnose the qualifying patient as having a debilitating medical condition,” the law reads.