Note to the SCC 2/1/14 

By Fred Gardner    Steve Robinson, MD, attending a conference in San Francisco Jan. 22 for the Society of Cannabis Clinicians (he’s a new member of the board), was surprised to hear attorney Lauren Vazquez say that it’s legal for physicians to issue approvals to people without proof of California residency. Vasquez said that Prop 215’s famous reference to “seriously ill Californians,” was in the preamble, not in the statute itself.

 We asked Vazquez if there had there been no prosecutions of MDs issuing approvals to out-of-staters.

Her reply was forwarded to the SCC a few days ago: 

 “Yes, as the law has been applied there is no residency requirement. I am not aware of any patients being denied a defense because they were not a resident. I have also never heard of a doctor being prosecuted or disciplined for this. We had a public meeting with the Santa Clara DA’s office several years ago where they confirmed that there is no residency requirement. The only residency requirement is for the state card because it is funded by the state based on county administration and the counties therefore require proof of residency in their county.”

About half the SCC members who responded have not been issuing approvals to out-of-staters. Allan Frankel, MD, who still insists on patients having California ID, asked how it came to pass that doctors and dispensaries insisted on proof of residency.

 I don’t remember it being discussed at any of the early SCC meetings. David Hadorn, MD, proposed early on that the SCC endorse seeing patients by videoconference, and he was voted down nine to one by colleagues who deemed it unwise “to fight two fights at once,” as Dr. Mikuriya put it. (Tod’s proposed standard of care, adopted by the SCC, called for initial visits to be in person.)

For a long time after Prop 215 passed, law enforcement was targeting doctors who issued cannabis approvals. Nine of the first 10 SCC members were investigated by the state medical board —and even the bravest exercised caution.

Today the genie’s head is further out of the bottle. And here come her shoulders.