Oregon doctor's license suspended for signing marijuana cards

March 04, 2004

Andrew Kramer, KGW Radio

 A doctor who signed nearly half of all the medical marijuana cards in Oregon was suspended from practicing medicine on Thursday.

Dr. Phillip Leveque, 81, an osteopathic doctor, said Thursday he has singed more than 4,000 cards for people with crippling disorders who want to smoke pot to alleviate their pain. He had two offices in Portland and traveled frequently along Interstate 5 to mass meetings in hotel conference rooms with patients seeking the card.

By the time of his suspension Thursday, Leveque had signed off on roughly 40 percent of all the cards issued in Oregon since the state became one of nine in the country legalizing pot for medicine in 1998.

Leveque was under scrutiny since 2002, when the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners suspended his license for 90 days and fined him $5,000 for signing cards without first seeing patients face-to-face. Sometimes, he reviewed descriptions of patients ailments sent by fax.

At the time, Leveque agreed to more thoroughly evaluate patients before signing the cards.

The Oregon Board of Medical Examiners on Thursday issued a statement saying Leveque had not followed through on that agreement.

Leveque called the board's action an 'inquisition,' and said he had signed thousands of cards because other doctors were reluctant to give patients the medicine they needed. He charged $150 for a physical for the card.

'My patients tell me, Dr. Leveque, marijuana works better than any regularly prescribed medication,' he said.

Yet several Oregon certified physicians hired by the board as consultants raised concerns about Leveque's practices, according to board executive director Kathleen Haley.

The board consultants found he approved cards for patients with psychiatric disorders and prior histories of drug addition for whom marijuana was not appropriate, Haley said.

Also, Leveque recommended smoking pot for conditions that could in no way benefit from the drug, Haley said.

'Our consultants said he was jeopardizing the health and safety of the patients,' she said. 'It isn't the numbers that are significant here. It's the manner in which the patients were evaluated and the adequacy of that.'

Haley said the board will now consider permanently revoking Leveque's license.

Oregon's Medical Marijuana Act, approved by voters in 1998, allows residents to grow and use marijuana for medical purposes. A doctor must verify that the patient has a 'debilitating medical condition' such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or severe pain.

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