All Sections
Welcome guest, you have 3 views left.  Register| Sign In

Home | Health

State reprimands doctor for certifying medical marijuana use for patient with past pot convictions

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 17. 2017 9:43PM
A bud on a flowering cannabis plant at the Sanctuary ATC medical marijuana growing facility in Rochester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER File)

CONCORD — A Colebrook physician has been reprimanded in a case involving the certification of a patient with marijuana convictions who had a condition that qualified him for medical marijuana.

Under an agreement with the state Board of Medicine, Dr. Robert Soucy Jr. is required to participate in 10 hours of continuing medical education, with five hours specifically in the area of medical record documentation and two hours in the area of medical marijuana, according to the board.

Soucy, who neither admitted or denied the allegations in the settlement agreement with the board, was also fined $1,000.

The matter was brought to the board’s attention last May by the patient’s parole officer, who wrote to the board complaining about the physician’s “poor judgment” in certifying the patient for medical marijuana.

According to the agreement, Soucy has treated the patient since 1989 for a variety of ailments including degenerative joint disease, peripheral neuropathy, hypertension and diabetes.

The patient also had several mental health conditions and 13 concussions, which caused traumatic brain injury.

On Jan. 12, 2015, Soucy and the patient had entered into a chronic pain/narcotic management agreement for treatment with the controlled substances oxycodone and clonazepam.

Soucy wrote the prescriptions after regularly seeing and talking with the patient both in person and over the phone. The appointments and calls were documented up to Aug. 26, 2015.

Soucy, however, did not see the patient again until about a year later on Aug. 18, 2016.

On April 14, 2016, Soucy signed a certification form qualifying the patient for medical marijuana. He submitted a second medical marijuana certification form on May 9, 2016.

“There is no record of respondent (Soucy) physically evaluating patient in the eight months prior to these certifications,” the agreement states.

The man’s parole officer, identified in documents only by the initials “J.L.,” initially wrote to the doctor expressing concerns about treating the man with medical marijuana for his chronic pain.

The parole officer’s concerns included that the patient had sold marijuana and other illegal drugs in the past, was on parole until 2026, and had not had a recent brain scan to confirm the need for the medical treatment being provided.

Soucy wrote back, stating that the patient had health conditions that allowed for medical marijuana to be used; that he was looking for work in construction but had too much pain to do so with the current treatments; and that overall medical marijuana would be a better pain management medication than his current treatment.

For a patient to obtain medical marijuana in New Hampshire, a doctor or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) must certify that the patient has both a “qualifying medical condition” and one of the symptoms specified in the law (such as severe nausea, vomiting, seizures or chemotherapy-induced anorexia).

Providers must have a relationship with patients for at least three months before they can certify them for the program. Patients send that certification with their applications to the Department of Health and Human Services, which issues patient registry cards.

Michael Holt, therapeutic cannabis program policy administrator at the state Department of Health and Human Services, was unaware of Soucy’s case or any physician being disciplined for issuing a certificate for medical marijuana.

The medical marijuana law allows anyone with criminal convictions to get a card to receive marijuana if the person has a qualified medical condition.

The medical marijuana user can lose the privilege if they are caught selling or giving the drug to anyone else.

Prior to certifying the patient, the law requires the provider have a “three-month medical relationship” that includes an in-person exam.

Health Social issues