Allegations without due process are nothing but allegations. And at this point, that's all there is in the case of the four medical marijuana doctors whose licenses hang in legal limbo since the state medical board suspended them last month. But as those doctors wait for their day in court, former employees of MedEval in Colorado Springs — where one of them, Dr. William Stone, practices — are speaking out against their former boss.
Assistant operations manager Lisa Moss who was hired in December and quit June 30, says "it was a clinic for profit, not for patients." She describes a get-them-in-get-them-out kind of attitude toward consultations, with little regard for verification or follow-ups. "Half the time [patients] would only fill out half their intake form, then doc would just sign off on it and that's that," she tells the Indy. "And sometimes, they'd come just straight from the DMV with temporary licenses [to prove residency] and no medical history whatsoever."
Her implication, of course, is that he recommended excessive amounts of marijuana to illegitimate patients who perhaps had less-than-legal intentions.
According to documents provided by Moss, consultations at MedEval were priced according to the size of the recommendation. As in, the starting rate for a six-plant recommendation (baseline per the state constitution) is $100. But if Stone signed off on extended plant counts, the price would go up: $200 for 20 to 40 plants; $300 for 40 to 60 plants; $400 for 60 to 80 plants; and $500 for 80 to 99 plants (the legal limit).
Moss says they'd go through around 70 patients in an eight-hour day, bringing in $20,000, half of which was the doctor's cut.
She remembers once giving Stone some materials from Realm of Caring — a cannabinoid therapy foundation most famous for developing the Charlotte's Web strain hailed as something of a miracle cure for children with epilepsy.
"You'd think it'd be a natural fit for MedEval because [Stone] is a neurologist," Moss says. "But he didn't even read it and told me to stop wasting his time."
Hired back in October, former operations manager AJ Foreman left the same day Moss did and, she says, for the same reason.
(The pair stuck around for as long as they did, they say, because they first tried to raise the issues internally. Email communications among staff from that time do support their claim.)
What frustrates Foreman the most is how well the story bolsters the narrative that the medical marijuana system is a farce. It doesn't do anyone a favor, Foreman adds, that Stone dyed his beard purple and wore hoodies with weed leaf sneakers to work.
"That's the problem," she says, about the common "pot doctor" caricature. "They're right."
It came crashing down in late July when the state medical board wrote a suspension order claiming Stone's practice "falls below generally accepted standards and lacks medical necessity." Three others got similar orders the same day.
Soon after, the four sued, arguing that they didn't get a chance to defend themselves.
A Denver judge granted them an injunction, so for the time being, Stone is allowed to continue practicing medicine as long as he doesn't recommend medical marijuana.
Stone's attorney, Carmen Decker of Hershey Decker PLLC, didn't respond to the Indy's request for comment. In a cease-and-desist letter to Moss, Decker wrote that her "statements regarding MedEval and its staff are patently false. As such, [her] utterances rise to the level of defamation and are legally actionable."
Moss, on her part, doesn't fear legal action because she maintains her statements are true. In addition, she and Foreman were contacted by the state attorney general's office and have accepted an invitation to testify.
Spokeswoman for the attorney general's office Annie Skinner declined to comment on specifics, but did say the case is going to District Court to be heard by Judge Ross Buchanan.
Patients and caregivers who say they need to grow more than 12 plants to treat debilitating conditions are fighting back against the local cap. A group of them plan to sue the city and a number of state defendants to overturn not just the municipal ordinance, but that statewide 99-plant limit too.
So the issue of how much marijuana people really need is a dicey one.
Moss, a patient herself, feels it's important to weed out those who don't really need it to preserve the rights of those who do. "If we don't get people like [Stone] out," she says, "patients will never get their rights back."