Board suspends doctor over medical marijuana patients

March 04, 2004

Patrick O\'Neill, The Oregonian

Oregon's medical licensing board suspended the license Thursday of the state's most prolific medical marijuana doctor, saying he 'poses an imminent risk to public health and safety.' 

The board suspended the license of Dr. Phillip Leveque, 81, a Molalla osteopath whose practice consisted mostly of processing patients who seek a doctor's signature on their applications for a medical marijuana card.

Oregon law permits the use of marijuana for certain medicinal purposes if the patient gets permission from a licensed physician.

Kathleen Haley, executive director of the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners, said any physician statements for medical marijuana signed by Leveque after Thursday are invalid.

Haley said Leveque has a history of signing permission slips for medical marijuana without meeting the patients, verifying their identities, reviewing medical histories or making physical examinations.

'Patients who come to Dr. Leveque for the statement may have other underlying conditions that render marijuana a danger to their health,' she said.

Someone with a substance abuse problem, for example, could be harmed by using marijuana, she said.

Leveque denied the charges in a telephone interview Thursday, saying he meets and interviews patients, reviews medical charts and has a nurse practitioner who performs examinations.

Leveque said he has signed more than 4,000 permission forms for medical marijuana since the beginning of the program in 1999.

The physician is entitled to a hearing before an administrative law judge but said he has not decided what to do.

On Thursday, the eight members of the medical board taking part in the meeting voted unanimously to suspend Leveque's license. Three members were absent.

The board's medical consultants found that Leveque was 'grossly negligent' in evaluating some patients and jeopardized their health and safety, Haley said.

The suspension is the latest action in 20 years of wrangling between the board and Leveque.

Haley said the board found that Leveque had not complied with an agreement with the board that he signed in April 2002. Under that agreement, Leveque was placed on probation for 10 years. He agreed that during that time he would not sign permission forms for medical marijuana without, among other things, meeting patients, performing physicals, reviewing patient records and providing a written treatment plan.

Oregon's medical marijuana law allows people who have certain 'debilitating medical conditions,' such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or severe pain, to grow and keep a small amount of marijuana.

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