Published on December 6th, 2015 | by News Feed
Illinois Officials Take Action Against Boundary Pushing Medical Marijuana Doctors
Illinois’ medical marijuana program might have only begun a month ago, but it’s already creating a tornado of controversy. As some doctors opt to advertise their willingness to prescribe cannabis, officials are fighting back with threats to revoke their licensure. Dr. Bodo Schneider is one of the doctors at the heart of this controversy. His ads feature bold letters that read, “WE’ED like to be your doctor” and give contact information for his clinics in suburban Chicago and southern Illinois.
While patients seem to love the marketing strategy, there are many who worry the weed friendly approach to medicine is creating problems. Critics insist that physicians should not advertise for weed services or prescribe marijuana to new patients without first establishing an ongoing doctor-patient relationship.
In an upcoming medical board case this week, government officials hope to revoke Schneider’s medical license. And he’s not the only one the lawmakers are targeting. The state is applying legal pressure to three different physicians in Illinois who are believed to have pushed the state’s boundaries regarding medical marijuana.
Schneider’s attorney, Luke Baumstark, said officials legalized medical marijuana but they are now condemning doctors whom legally prescribed it. “I understand why they don’t want everybody and their uncle opening up a marijuana stand, but I think the regulators have gone after a very high percentage of the people who have tried to use this law at all. It’s over-aggressive.”
Of course, this problem is not seen in all places where medical cannabis is legal. In New Jersey, another doctor, Dr. Anthony Anzalone, has adapted a similar approach to attracting patients. He promotes his three clinics with a logo shaped like a pot leaf. He also added a new web address to specifically target patients in need of medical cannabis. The approach seems to be working and the number of patients that walk through the clinic doors is higher than ever before.
In the three years that the medical cannabis has been legal in New Jersey, no action has been taken as a result of how a doctor prescribes it. Dr. Anzalone who earns a living as a gynecologist, couldn’t be happier with the way the State of New Jersey has responded to his efforts. “The state’s been very good to me. We’re complying with the law as best we can. … All I’m doing is the job other doctors don’t want to do.”
Do you think running billboards to promote medical marijuana are unprofessional for a physician? Has Dr. Schneider crossed any ethical boundaries or are state lawmakers just making an example of him?