Physician sues state over medical marijuana rules

CLEVELAND COUNTY, Okla. -  A lawsuit has been filed in Cleveland County by a D.O. from Moore, claiming the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) is using 'legalese' to prevent Oklahomans from getting medical marijuana.

"There are a number of poison pills designed to defeat the intent of 788," said attorney Chad Moody.

He claims there are loopholes in Oklahoma's emergency medical marijuana laws. Moody's client, Dr. Scott Evans, claims he has given recommendations to a number of his patients for medical marijuana, and some, but not all, of their applications have been denied.

"He is losing business and suffering reputational harm," said Moody.

Moody says the OMMA is citing language in the new laws that says a doctor has to be board certified in a specialty to prescribe pot.

"It's absolutely ludicrous. Why would someone who is board certified in plastic surgery be more qualified to recommend marijuana than someone who has an ordinary physicians license," said Moody.

News 4 talked to a spokesperson from the OMMA, they declined an interview when asked about Dr. Evans claims.

"We cannot comment on pending litigation," said an OMMA representative.

When I asked why some applications are being turned away in general, they said most were due to errors in filling out the forms but said they "would refer you to the OMMA website for rules and regulations regarding license."

The health department also sent News 4 the emergency rules language. It says it part:

"... if the physician holds a valid, unrestricted and existing license to practice in the State of Oklahoma and meets the definition of 'board certified' under rule established by either the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure or the Oklahoma Board of Osteopathic Examiners..."

It's that last part that Moody says is the kicker. The Board of Osteopathic specifically uses the term “specialist” in its rules.

"The health department has taken the position that board certified means specialty board certified and that is not what 788 said," said Moody.

We contacted the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners. They sent us their definition of board certified, which does seem to indicate you can only be “certified” if you are a specialist, which could cause a problem for folks like Dr. Evans.

Moody says this is just a way for officials to further restrict access to medical marijuana.

"I think a lot of the establishment in Oklahoma didn't want to see 788 pass and they are upset and frustrated that it did.  Right now, they are throwing a temper tantrum because they lost," said Moody.

Even the Oklahoma Medical Association admits there may be a problem in the new law.  They sent us this statement saying in part:

"...there is still confusion among some physicians and this relates to the vagueness of how S.Q. 788 was written in the first place ... physician must be an M.D. or D.O. who is certified by their licensing boards."