On May 11 charges were dropped against a Colorado physician accused of distributing marijuana illegally (as opposed to legally recommending medicinal marijuana). As reported by the Denver Post, Dr. Toribio Robert Mestas, practicing in Englewood, CO, was arrested in early 2010 when he recommended medi-pot to an undercover police officer using the phony name of “Joseph Butkus” (the surname likely inspired by the legendary former linebacker for the Chicago Bears, Dick Butkus).
Perhaps Dr. Mestas isn’t a football fan as he failed to be suspicious of “Mr. Butkus” and issued the recommendation based on the fake patient’s “severe pain.” The prosecution tried to argue that “Butkus” never told Dr. Mestas that he was in “severe pain” but only that he suffered from daily back pain and that he (“Butkus”) possessed “the body of an 80-year-old” and sometimes had trouble sleeping. Dr. Mestas testified that such a description of symptoms from a patient logically implies a diagnosis of “severe pain” (another physician’s testimony substantiated Dr. Mestas’ rational conclusion).
Arapahoe County District Judge Kurt Horton ruled Dr. Mestas complied with Colorado’s Amendment 20, part of the state constitution, which allows for a physician to certify a patient might benefit from pot as a medicinal treatment. Then it’s the patient’s decision to actually get a medi-pot registry card to obtain the medicine, which is beyond the physician’s realm of responsibility.
Judge Horton’s decision casts aspersions on a similar Arapahoe County case against Dr. Manuel Aquino, accused of writing two flawed medical marijuana recommendations to undercover cops. Dr. Aquino’s trial is scheduled for August. The charges against both doctors came prior to the Colorado General Assembly adopting rules in 2010 requiring physicians to conduct a thorough physical exam and offer to provide follow-up care for patients receiving medi-pot recommendations. For the record, Dr. Mestas’ and Dr. Aquino’s attorneys assert their clients were in full compliance with the new law (even though it didn’t apply to their cases).
Prosecutors maintain their case against Dr. Aquino is “different” than the one against Dr. Mestas, and they’d better hope so or they’ll come up short again in court. Another such ruling could diminish the use of narcs wasting the time of doctors and judges posing as phony patients simply because local law enforcement seeks to curtail the momentum of medical marijuana in Colorado.
More @ denverpost.com