There are around 600 patients in Missouri who obtained a certification for a medical marijuana license with a fraudulent signature from a physician, according to the state’s department of health.
The agency made the announcement on Friday, saying that at this time “there is no evidence to indicate the affected patients were aware the physician listed was not the physician who met with them.”
“However,” the department added, “the physician certification for these patients was not valid.”
“Patients impacted by this fraudulent activity will be notified, and they will be allowed 30 days to submit a valid certification to [the Department of Health and Senior Services],” the announcement said. “If a valid certification is not received, the patient’s license will be revoked…and a pro-rated refund of the original registration fee for the amount of time left on the deactivated license will be provided.”
The case has now been referred “to the Attorney General’s Office and to the Missouri Board of Healing Arts for further action,” the department said.
“Through our many types of regulatory efforts, we remain watchful for any wrongdoing in order to protect Missourians,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services said in the announcement. “Our main concern is how this fraudulent activity negatively affects patients, and we are working to minimize the impact on them while also holding accountable those who are responsible.”
Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the department, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the agency has “no indication that this physician was involved in any way.”
“Just an innocent victim, really,” Cox said.
Missouri’s Medical Cannabis Program Is Hitting Some Bumps
The episode represents just the latest misstep for the state’s medical marijuana program, which has been beset by a probe by Missouri lawmakers into the licensing process.
Hundreds of would-be cannabis business owners have filed appeals after being denied a license by the state’s regulatory agency.
Much of the scrutiny centers around a company called Wise Health Solutions, which the state of Missouri has contracted to assess licensing applications.
Wise Health has a partnership with Oaksterdam University, an unaccredited higher learning institution in California billed as “America’s first cannabis college,” which held seminars in Missouri last year that were, according to the Kansas City Star, “promoted as workshops to help license applicants with, among other things, ‘exclusive access to required industry relationships necessary to build teams and businesses that succeed.”
Missouri voters passed a measure legalizing medical marijuana back in 2018. The state’s medical marijuana regulators last week approved two more in-state businesses to begin growing cannabis in the state.
“This is a big step forward for patients in Missouri,” Lyndall Fraker, director of the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation with the Department of Health and Senior Services, as quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We know qualified patients are eager to see dispensary doors open up in our state, and having cultivators now able to grow and soon supply these other facilities is something we are all very pleased to see.”