A doctor in Florida who was accused by the state of failing to conduct adequate evaluations of patients before ordering them medical cannabis prescriptions was cleared by a judge on Wednesday.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that an administrative judge ruled that Joseph Dorn, a Tallahassee physician, “didn’t do anything wrong” when he was the subject of a pair of undercover investigations.
Last month, the state’s Department of Health proposed a number of harsh penalties against Dorn in its written recommendation to Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins: a permanent ban from ordering medical cannabis for patients, a $10,000 fine, and a five-year suspension of Dorn’s medical license.
But on Wednesday, per the Tampa Bay Times, Watkins “issued an order recommending that the complaint against the doctor be dismissed, saying that health officials ‘failed to present competent substantial evidence in this case establishing … that Dr. Dorn acted, or failed to act, in any manner to defraud or trick any patient, or that any patient was actually defrauded or tricked.’”
The accusations against Dorn, who boasts three decades of experience practicing medicine in Florida, stem from his interactions with two different undercover patients, referred to as “Patient O.G.” and “Patient B.D” in the state’s complaint against the doctor.
The Department of Health said Dorn failed to conduct physical examinations of “Patient O.G.” and “Patient B.D,” as the News Service of Florida reported last month, and even went as far as accusing Dorn of using a “trick or scheme” in his practice.
“Instead of recognizing this responsibility, respondent (Dorn) used his designation as a qualified physician to liberally qualify patients to receive medical marijuana by only performing perfunctory consultations and ignoring many of the requirements imposed by the legislature,” attorneys for the Department of Health wrote in their recommendation to the judge last month.
But on Wednesday, Watkins said that the state lacked the evidence necessary to back those claims.
“The evidence of record undermines DOH’s argument that Dr. Dorn’s practice is nothing more than an ‘open gate’ to medical marijuana. In the case of both O.G. and B.D. (and presumably the other 28 patients examined), Dr. Dorn conducted a detailed and thorough assessment of the patient’s condition prior to prescribing medical marijuana,” Watkins wrote, as quoted by the Tampa Bay Times. “Furthermore, the preponderance of the competent substantial evidence in this case demonstrates that Dr. Dorn performed a meaningful review of O.G. and B.D.’s medical history and symptoms, identified and discussed their qualifying stressors, and noted the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms being experienced by each.”
The ruling amounts to vindication for Dorn, whose attorney, Ryan Andrews, said last month that the state “offered no evidence whatsoever to support its allegation,” and that the Department of Health “does not know what the health benefits or risks are of medical marijuana.”
On Wednesday, the Times reported that Andrews “threatened to take legal action against the health department and officials involved in the complaint against his client.”
“This action didn’t sound in good faith and now it’s our turn to seek justice and right this wrong against everyone involved. This entire action against Dr. Dorn is an embarrassment and disservice to the state of Florida. Dr. Dorn is excited to continue treating patients without these baseless and harmful accusations hanging over his head,” Andrews said in a statement.