Two dozen doctors in Arizona are responsible for making medical marijuana available to more than 34,000 patients according to a new report, with several writing recommendations at the rate of one an hour for every business hour of the day.
The study being released today by the Arizona Department of Health Services finds these 24 doctors, most of them naturopaths, wrote close to two-thirds of all the recommendations in the most recent fiscal year.
State Health Director Will Humble said his agency has reported 30 of these doctors to their state licensing boards. But Humble said these were doctors where there was clear evidence that they were not following laws which require them to check a website run by the Arizona Board of Pharmacy to see whether their patients had prescriptions for other drugs. He does not know whether the boards ever followed up.
“One physician, a naturopath, over that last fiscal year, did almost 3,000 certifications,’’ Humble said. `It does make you raise an eyebrow.”
Humble said he has no independent authority to investigate whether the doctors that are writing out the lion’s share of the recommendations are in fact complying with requirements that they adequately examine patients to ensure that marijuana is appropriate.
The new report also finds that the highest concentration of medical marijuana users is in Yavapai County, with close to 1.5 percent of the total population there having a state-issued card entitling them to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Gila County was a close second. At the other extreme, 0.3 percent of Yuma County residents are medical marijuana users.