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Medical Board: No Proof MMJ System Is Being Abused

Opponents of medical weed in California often point to the recommendation system as proof MMJ is a scam. Doctor recommendations are too easy to get, they say, and physicians hand them out like candy in return for a hefty profit.

Problem is, the state agency that oversees the medical profession says there’s no evidence to support that view.

Medical Marijuana RecommendationPot recommendations cause so few problems the Medical Board of California doesn’t even track weed-related complaints, Cassandra Hockenson, spokeswoman for the board, told the East Bay Express. There isn’t a single mention of the drug in the enforcement report for 2012-2013.

But abuse of prescription painkillers is a big deal. The doctors who prescribe these potentially deadly narcotics draw most of the complaints filed by the public against physicians. You can’t die from marijuana, which may be one reason so few pot-related complaints are filed.

“We don’t have our phone ringing off the hook over medical marijuana recommendations,” Hockenson said. “Nope. But if there are problems we want to know about it.”

One of the most common complaints from cannabis opponents, especially cops, is that they see young, supposedly healthy people using recommendations. But Hockesnon said the board won’t launch an investigation simply because a doctor writes a recommendation to an 18 year old.

“There has to be more to it, like gross negligence or not providing an adequate standard of care,” she said. “That 18 year old is an adult. He’s protected under HIPAA. If he got a proper examination and a recommendation was made, there’s no issue.”

That reality flies in the face of common perceptions about MMJ in California. Police and other opponents frequently complain it’s too easy for anyone to get pot, that the system is a con job, and that marijuana has no medical benefits (mostly just because they say so).

medical_marijuana_doctor“I understand police are upset about this,” Hockenson said. “I would be sure if an officer knows somebody they feel is abusing they would notify us. They have a great relationship with us.”

Filing a complaint against a doctor is a relatively easy thing to do, which highlights how rare pot allegations are. And there are 750,000 people in California with MMJ recommendations.

“If somebody feels — whether it’s police officer or whoever — that somebody is not acting appropriately and they feel like [recommendations] are being handed out like Chiclets and proper exams aren’t being done, then they need to notify the medical board and we will look into it,” Hockenson said.

About Matt Brooks

Based in San Francisco, Matt is a journalist who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than five years. He provides regular news coverage on and

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