Florida

‘Marijuana Doctor’ Caught Prescribing Over Internet

In Florida, a patient has to be diagnosed in person with one of 13 debilitating conditions to receive approval for medical marijuana

A Florida doctor is fighting to get his medical license reinstated after getting caught on undercover video prescribing medical marijuana using a web camera to a patient who didn't have a medical need for it.

The NBC 6 Investigators obtained the exclusive undercover video that shows just how easy it was for a man to get medical marijuana without having a medical problem.

It's a first-of-its-kind case in Florida but state health officials worry it won't be the last.

Last summer, a man walked into a medical marijuana clinic on Palm Avenue in Pembroke Pines for an appointment to see Dr. Tommy Lousiville for a medical marijuana ID card.

The man was escorted to an office where he sat in front of a computer and web camera. On the screen was Dr. Louisville on his cell phone.

The undercover video shows Dr. Louisville asking the man, "What's the medical problem?"

"Well, I have a job and they drug test me so I figured if I have that with the low THC, then I can be ok," the man answered.

The doctor gave him approval for his ID Card. Even though, in Florida, a patient has to be diagnosed in person with one of 13 debilitating conditions to receive approval.

A month later, the man returned to the doctor's office with his ID card to get the drug. He had a second online appointment with the doctor.

After less than three minutes, the doctor asked "So what form do you want?" and the man responded, "The vape pen."

Police say the man didn't have a physical exam or give a medical reason for wanting medical marijuana.

The doctor didn't know that the man requesting the marijuana was an undercover Pembroke Pines detective and police were recording the appointments on body cam video.

Later, the doctor was brought in for questioning.

"So you meet with patients via telemedicine, not physically in person?" the detective asked on a police audio recording of the interview.

"Mostly, yes," the doctor responded.

"Alright, but the statute requires that it's done in person," the detective said.

"That's what the statute says," said Dr. Louisville.

Court records show the doctor pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges. The Florida Board of Medicine voted to suspend his license for two years, ordered him to pay a $30,000 fine and restricted him from ordering medical marijuana for patients.

"A two year suspension means he has lost his practice, he's going to have to start all over again," said Dr. Steven Rosenberg, the Chair of Florida's Board of Medicine. "This definitely requires an in-depth examination and you can't do that via the internet."

Dr. Lousiville's attorney, Juan Santos, says he's appealing the medical board's discipline in court.

He told the NBC 6 Investigators he won't talk specifics about the case during the appeals process but said the punishment does not match the crime.

The NBC 6 Investigators interviewed Dr. Louisville about the record number of people signing up for medical marijuana in June of 2018 when he worked at a different clinic in Miami.

He told NBC 6 he was the "Marijuana Doctor" and had to weed out fake patients on a regular basis.

"It's not hard to weed out the bad seeds," he told the NBC 6 Investigators. "Their story just doesn't fit."

The clinic's owner and workers were not charged in the case and didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.

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