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CA--Medical Pot Clinic Will Open in Chico This Week


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IndianaToker

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By Melissa Daugherty - Staff Writer
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record

Health professionals at a Chico medical clinic can suggest its clients use cannabis products, but they won't be handing out any samples.

MediCann, a fledgling organization with a string of clinics in the state, is opening its ninth location on Nord Avenue Wednesday. There, qualifying patients will be issued a doctor's recommendation to legally use medical marijuana.

While those who are determined eligible may be advised to use cannabis, the clinic's director wants residents to know it isn't distributing products of the plant.


"We're definitely not a dispensary," said Jonathan Arbel, MediCann director of operations.

And that's a good thing since medical marijuana distributors aren't welcome in Butte County. While authorities in places like San Francisco may look the other way, advocates who try to set up shop locally aren't so lucky, said District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

"When people ask, we inform them that it's against the law," he said.

Giving a recommendation to use medical marijuana is a different story. Ramsey said it falls within the guidelines of Proposition 215 so long as the recommendations are legitimate.

But after studying its Web site, Ramsey is a bit skeptical of MediCann. The company sounds like a business as opposed to a medical operation, he said.

The fact that clients must pay the fee in cash and are given a 50 percent discount if they don't qualify for the recommendation were a couple of red flags he spotted.

Physicians who specialize in medical marijuana evaluations have occasionally set up branch offices locally, but Ramsey said anyone can go to their own doctor to get the recommendation.

Arbel described MediCann headquartered in Oakland as a chain of alternative medical clinics dedicated to the care of patients who have been failed by traditional medicine.

"We're more of a compassionate company," said Arbel, adding that the $100 fee for services is much less than other similar clinics charge.

The fee, he said, pays for a year's worth of visits that include an evaluation by a trained medical professional either a licensed medical doctor or a physician's assistant and follow-up appointments.

People suffering from chronic pain, cancer and AIDS make up many of the clinic's clients. They cover all walks of life, from grandmothers to rabbis, Arbel said.

"They're like you. They're like everybody," he said.

Those who are deemed eligible to use medical marijuana are given a signed and dated document recommending that they do so.

But that doesn't mean everyone qualifies, Arbel said. Staff are always on the lookout for malingerers people who exaggerate or fake illness to get the recommendation.

Further, he said, those who do receive the recommendation are encouraged to use cannabis edibles such as oils and butters rather than smoking marijuana.

"We do try to steer patients toward other treatment," Arbel said.



Acupuncture and massage therapy are also recommended.



MediCann is opening a clinic in Chico because many of its clients in the Bay Area were traveling from the north state. Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Author: Melissa Daugherty - Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Copyright: 2005 The Media News Group
Contact: letters@chicoer.com
Website: http://www.chicoer.com/



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IndianaToker

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By Melissa Daugherty - Staff Writer
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record

The Butte County district attorney isn't the only one with concerns about the practices of a Chico medical clinic that specializes in evaluating patients for the use of medical marijuana.


MediCann a 3-month-old company with a chain of alternative medical clinics in the state opened its ninth clinic Wednesday on Nord Avenue. There, qualifying patients will be issued a doctor's recommendation to legally use medical marijuana.

While District Attorney Mike Ramsey had questions about the company's fees, an Oakland-based attorney is questioning the validity of the recommendations.

Bill Panzer, co-author of Proposition 215 the law allowing qualified patients the use of medical marijuana said he thinks evaluations by physician's assistants may not hold up in court.

"Somebody whose recommendation comes from a physician's assistant is putting themselves in jeopardy," said Panzer, who estimated that more than 80 percent of his cases are marijuana-related.

According to Jonathan Arbel, MediCann director of operations, the company does use assistants for evaluations and recommendations in some of its clinics.

"It's perfectly legal," Arbel said. "A lot of times clinics are run by physician's assistants across the country."

He added that the doctors who recommend medical marijuana for patients are no different than regular doctors, and neither are their assistants.

Panzer agrees, in part. That's why he counsels his clients to specifically seek evaluation from physicians the authorities who, under Proposition 215, are allowed to give the approval.

Another piece of legislation, he added, Senate Bill 420, defines a physician as an individual licensed to practice medicine or osteopathy by the Medical Board of California.

While nothing specifically states that assistants aren't allowed to give the recommendations, Panzer said courts tend to interpret both laws narrowly.

"I just don't see anyone OK'ing a physician's assistant," he said.

Assistants are able to prescribe drugs under the auspices of a doctor, but a recommendation to use medical marijuana is not a prescription. Thus, the rules that apply to prescriptions don't apply, the attorney explained.

It was actually Panzer's idea when writing Proposition 215 to make medical marijuana use a recommendation rather than a prescription a tactic that helps block the federal government, which has pre-emptive power in the realm of prescription law.

Plus, added Panzer, "No one's going to take (a prescription for marijuana) to Longs Drugs or Rite Aid."

Panzer said there is no definitive answer to the question of whether or not it's legal for assistants to make evaluations and recommendations. But even if a visit to a clinic is much cheaper than seeing a doctor, it's not worth taking the chance the approval will hold up in court.

"Anytime your freedom is at stake, you ought to be really careful what you do," he said.

Earlier this week, MediCann responded to Ramsey's question about the company requiring clients to pay its $100 fee in cash. Arbel, its director, said the practice was to ensure its patients' privacy. He added, however, that the company now accepts credit cards.

Ramsey was also critical of the company's offer to give a 50 percent discount to those who failed to qualify for a recommendation. Arbel said that policy, too, has been changed, and that those who don't qualify for a recommendation will not be charged any fee.

On its opening day, the Chico clinic was staffed by company founder Dr. Jean Talleyrand, but Arbel said that in the future the clinic likely will be staffed with an assistant.

Arbel added, "We are extremely confident the physician's assistants are doing a great job with patients and are giving a quality evaluation."

Panzer advises those who think they might benefit from medical marijuana to seek evaluation from their regular medical provider. Physicians, he said, shouldn't be worried about being prosecuted, so long as their recommendation is legitimate.

He also suggests patients look into the medical benefits of using marijuana and be prepared to share the information with a doctor who might be reluctant.

"Do your own research," he said. "Educate your physician." Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Author: Melissa Daugherty - Staff Writer
Published: Saturday, January 08, 2005
Copyright: 2005 The Media News Group
Contact: letters@chicoer.com
Website: http://www.chicoer.com/






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