A sham to remember

A sham to remember

Here’s how Dr. Alan Feiger, a Colorado physician, documented his trip to a medical marijuana dispensary in Venice Beach, Calif., on March 12, 2012:

I finally reached the desk, the “doctor” never looked at me — much less looked me in the eye. He never read my questionnaire. He provided no patient confidentiality. He didn’t take a patient history. He didn’t give me a physical exam. He gave no warnings about the side effects of marijuana use.


While on the boardwalk, I saw many marijuana dispensaries. Standing just outside them were young people dressed in green, twirling signs to hawk the shops’ services.

“Get your marijuana license for only $40!” one dispensary trumpeted.

As a physician, I do not use marijuana — but this seemed like a real bargain. So, I decided to check it out.

Inside, there was a long line made up mostly of young men and women. A staff person took my Colorado driver’s license and directed me to a waiting room with more than a dozen other “patients” who also had been handed a questionnaire. As I completed the form, I included several fabricated details that would signal to any responsible doctor that I had no business using marijuana:

  • Marijuana helped minimally with my back pain.
  • I had a history of alcohol abuse and nicotine addiction.
  • I had been hospitalized for depression and anxiety.
  • I had experienced asthmatic attacks with marijuana use.
  • I worked as a long-distance truck driver.

Satisfied with my bogus answers, I handed over the questionnaire and was ushered to a courtyard, where an elderly man who identified himself as a doctor — but offered no proof of licensure — sat behind a makeshift desk before another long line of young “patients.” When I finally reached the desk, the “doctor” never looked at me — much less looked me in the eye. He never read my questionnaire. He provided no patient confidentiality. He didn’t take a patient history. He didn’t give me a physical exam. He gave no warnings about the side effects of marijuana use. He didn’t ask about my job — but if he had, I’m sure he wouldn’t have cared if I actually were driving 18-wheelers.

However, he did suggest I take mega-doses of Vitamin D for my (fictitious) back pain — which is not a customary prescription for such an ailment.

Then, he handed me the marijuana license, which, he said, was valid in California and Colorado. There was no need for me to follow up until a year later, he added.

Our visit — if you could call it that — lasted less than two minutes.

The doctor’s work wasn’t safe or responsible — and it certainly wasn’t medicine.

 


Vote No on Question 3 in November 2012:  The proposed Massachusetts so-called medical marijuana law is too loose and ripe for abuse. Similar laws are failing in other states.  Informed voters are switching their votes to No.

Massachusetts doctors oppose Question 3, as do the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police.  This is not good public health policy.