Doctors skirting around the rules for medical marijuana in Arizona may end up facing a felony charge if new legislation—introduced by Sheila Polk, the anti-marijuana crusader and Yavapai County Attorney—passes. HB2067 has already been approved by the Arizona House.
Up to a year in prison would be the penalty for doctors not adhering to the state’s medical marijuana rules, reports U.S. News & World Report. Doctors found guilty would also suffer the loss of their medical license.
Polk claims that doctors aren’t establishing proper doctor-patient relationships and aren’t reviewing patients’ medical records before recommending medical marijuana. She said, “There are no consequences for not adhering to the statute. And of course the physicians under this statute are the gatekeepers as to who is getting these [medical marijuana] cards.”
Republicans seem to be on board with Polk’s excessively harsh proposal to punish doctors. Democrats are showing resistance. Representative Hannley said, “To me this bill seems to be a solution seeking a problem, because if we already have sanctions on doctors who break the law, I’m not sure why we’re adding more regulation onto the medical marijuana industry. This is a plant that never killed anybody, so I’m not seeing the harm.”
Kevin DeMenna, a medical marijuana dispensary lobbyist, says that the addition of felony penalties on doctors is unnecessary as they are already disciplined by medical boards. He said, “We’re trying to criminalize something that is moving in exactly the opposite direction. We are decriminalizing this. It is now effectively legal on three of our four corners – Canada, California and Mexico [and in Colorado and Nevada].”
Polk, among other prominent lawmakers in the state, are adamantly opposed to marijuana legalization. She was a leading contributor in efforts to defeat recreational marijuana legalization in 2016 in Arizona.
Polk says that 85% of medical marijuana cardholders are qualified for chronic pain, and she also indicates that most cards were issued to young people. She said, “What I see from my perspective as a county attorney is a culture of young folks who get their green card and then they’re going out and they’re smoking pot, and they’re not sick. For me, it’s a problem for the state because this becomes kids who are not going anywhere.”