Physician David Bearman filed suit against the California Medical Board last month for attorney’s fees and pain and suffering stemming from a marijuana prescription case the board brought against him two years ago. The trouble started when one of Bearman’s patients showed his medical marijuana recommendation to a state park ranger. The ranger reported to the Medical Board that he suspected the recommendation was improper, whereupon the board subpoenaed both patient and doctor for the patient’s medical records. After both refused to comply, the board began leveling daily fines against Bearman for noncompliance and initiated proceedings that placed his medical license in jeopardy. The 2nd District Court of Appeals annulled the subpoena, publishing its opinion that the subpoena lacked “specific, articulable” facts to support it and therefore constituted an invasion of the patient’s privacy and a violation of his due process.
According to court papers filed by Bearman’s attorney Joe Allen, the Medical Board’s “legally baseless proceeding” threatened Bearman with loss of his medical license, causing Bearman “fear, anger, depression, sleep loss, and anxiety over his ability to provide for his family and maintain his savings for retirement.” Allen also argued that Bearman—who is also a Goleta Water Board commissioner—deserves attorney’s fees because he performed a public benefit in defending the privacy rights of patients who receive doctors’ letters recommending the medical use of cannabis. Both sides will appear before Judge Denise de Bellefeuille in August.