POT PRIVACY LAWSUIT

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.

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