Posted: May 14, 2012 10:00 PM
Updated: May 14, 2012 10:52 PM
TUCSON - About 35,000 Arizona residents now carry state issued I.D. cards for the Medical Marijuana Program.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators went to find out how easy it is to get a card using one of our staffers who suffers from migraines. We went to a randomly selected medical marijuana certification center within Tucson city limits with a hidden camera.
"So tell me a little bit about what's going on with your migraines and some of the pain and the reason why you want to get your card?" asks the doctor.
"Our staffer had made one phone call to set up the appointment. She brought her driver's license but no medical records. After filling out paper work and waiting for about 25 minutes she met with a doctor and honestly described her medical condition.
"Yea I've always suffered from intense migraines. I don't know if they're stress related or what but they're constant."
The doctor responded. "I think you definitely have conditions that the state says goes through so we're good."
Our staffer was cleared by the doctor. Her medical marijuana application was sent off to the state and she was also given a list of medical marijuana clubs, where she was told she could get her medical marijuana. One week after her appointment she received her I.D. card.
The Investigators wondered if it was supposed to be that easy. We took our undercover investigation to Will Humble, Director of Arizona Department of Health Services.
"Apparently the physician has made, one minute into the appointment, has made a decision that this person has a qualifying medical condition," says Humble after looking at the video.
He says this isn't how it's supposed to work. The first problem he cites is the lack of medical records
"The intent is to look at the last 12 months of medical records, to see what other physicians have done with that patient, what other medical management strategies the other physicians have used."
Humble says another key requirement was missing in our visit. "A full inpatient physical exam that's appropriate to that condition." He explains it is up to the physician to determine what an appropriate exam is. In the appointment our staffer no exam was performed and her basic vital signs were not taken.
Humble says the program depends on doctors' integrity and ethical responsibility.
"When they skip steps, and especially when they skip steps and attest to the fact they had done things they hadn't done, it kind of ticks me off."
Humble tells us this doctor did a very good job explaining different strains of marijuana but says the lack of an exam and medical records check could threaten the integrity of the program.
"If this was happening all across the state, with all of our patients, then we would probably end up with a recreational program despite all of our efforts to keep it this thing medical."
Since seeing our investigation Director Humble says the Department of Health Services is looking into how doctors are qualifying patients. You can see all information about the Medical Marijuana Program by clicking here.
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