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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Marijuana Prescriber Sues Medical Board

ALBUQUERQUE (CN) - New Mexico stripped a physician assistant of his medical license for prescribing medical marijuana, which is legal in the state, the longtime medical worker claims in Federal Court.

Richard Rubin sued the New Mexico Medical Board, the State Department of Health, top officials in both agencies, and the Medical Board's prosecutor. He seeks punitive damages for conspiracy, tortuous interference, defamation, fraudulent inducement, malicious abuse of process, and constitutional violations.

Rubin, 60, had worked as a physician assistant for 19 years. He claims the Medical Board suspended his license without a hearing, in violation of the Constitution and the state's Compassionate Use Act.

"From the inception of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, Richard Rubin has been an advocate of the use of marijuana to treat a variety of medical and psychological conditions. Rubin has spoken publicly at DOH meetings and has unsuccessfully petitioned to add additional 'medical conditions' for cannabis use for consideration by the Program's Medical Advisory Board," Rubin says in the complaint.

"In December, 2011, Richard Rubin was working part-time at Zia Health and Wellness in Albuquerque, a business that assists people seeking certification to use medical marijuana under the provisions of the State's Medical Cannabis Program ('MCP'). Rubin had contracted with Zia Health and Wellness to review, evaluate, and appropriately certify applicants for the MCP.

"Mr. Rubin correctly and professionally evaluated the patients who sought his written certification; he carefully reviewed the patients' medical records, discussed use, risks, and benefits, and only issued certifications after documenting the patients' 'debilitating medical conditions' and assuring that the use of cannabis 'would likely outweigh the health risks for the patient(s).'"

But in February 2012, Rubin says, the Medical Board wrote to him that it had received a complaint from a physician, "'alleging you certifying non-patients for medical marijuana; falsifying patient medical records; and practicing without a supervising physician.' The Board requested 'a written response from you to address the allegations,'" according to the complaint.

Rubin says he submitted his response on March 7, 2012.

On May 17, the board suspended his license without notice, Rubin says, calling him "an immediate danger to the public".

Rubin claims the suspension was illegal, as was the manner in which it was done. It also was defamatory, he says.

The complaint states: "On May 17, 2012, without any notice to Mr. Rubin, written or verbal, the Medical Board met and acted to:

"Summarily Suspend (Richard Rubin's) physician assistant's license to practice medicine based on him being an immediate danger to the public and to simultaneously issue a Notice of Contemplated Action based on, but not limited to, conduct unbecoming; conduct likely to deceive the public; use of a deceptive statement in a document connected with the practice of medicine; manifest incapacity to practice; obtaining a fee by misrepresentation; interaction with other healthcare providers that could interfere with patient care; and practicing without physician supervision."

Rubin claims he did not get a "Notice of Contemplated Action" from the Medical Board until 12 days after it suspended him.

He cites the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, which states: "A practitioner shall not be subject to arrest or prosecution, penalized in any manner or denied any right or privilege for recommending the medical use of cannabis or providing written certification for the medical use of cannabis pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act."

Rubin is represented by Paul Livingston, of Placitas.

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