The hearing that will determine the fate of a Berkeley psychiatrist who has prescribed medical marijuana for 7,000 in the last seven years commences in an Oakland hearing room Wednesday.
Tod Mikuriya, M.D., who began writing prescriptions for the drug after passage of Prop 215 in 1996, has rejected an offer to settle the Medical Board of California’s unprofessional conduct case against him, leading to the hearings before Administrative Law Judge Jonathan Lew in Oakland’s State Building, 1515 Clay St.
The hearing is expected to take about a week as the judge hears a file-by-file review of Mikuriya’s treatment of the 17 patients named by the Board in its Accusation.
None of the patients who allegedly received sub-standard care from Mikuriya has filed or expressed a complaint against him (not counting an undercover narcotics officer from Sonoma County, whose name was added to the complaint after Mikuriya nixed the settlement offer).
All the patients named in the Board’s accusation had been self-medicating with cannabis before consulting Mikuriya. Many have reported that Mikuriya was the first and only doctor with whom they could discuss the fact that they’d been using marijuana medicinally.
The complaints against Dr. Mikuriya have all come from rural county district attorneys and sheriffs who, according to attorney Bill Simpich, “resented Tod’s courage in issuing approvals under Health and Safety Code section 11362.5.”
Mikuriya is charged with violating a “standard of care” that the Medical Board has never defined with respect to doctors who approve their patients’ cannabis use. Ironically, Mikuriya has been urging the Board to adopt specific standards with respect to cannabis approvals since 1996. The Board contends that such approvals are equivalent to prescriptions for “dangerous drugs.”
The prosecution—the Attorney General’s office, on behalf of the Medical Board—will call an expert witness employed by the Board, Tracy Duskin, M.D., who has reviewed the 17 patients’ files (which were obtained by subpoena). Duskin will explain why, in her opinion, Mikuriya failed each of them. The defense will call its own expert, Phillip Denney, M.D., a family doctor from Loomis, to explain why Mikuriya was able to make a valid medical judgment in each case.
All documents relevant to the case except the patients’ records can be found on Mikuriya.com, including the final settlement offer from the state Medical Board that Mikuriya rejected.