In this photo taken June 2, 2016, medical marijuana grows at Jeff Smith's and Cassie Heckenkamp's property along the McKenzie River east of Springfield, Ore. The pair had hoped to expand the grow operation on their property with a large recreational marijuana crop, but zoning rules won't allow it. (Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard via AP)

Doctors fighting suspensions over medical pot plant counts lose in court

Suspensions re-instated; judge says doctors must go through administrative hearings first

Four Colorado doctors accused of over-recommending high plant counts for medical marijuana patients have had their suspensions re-instated, after a judge reversed course and tossed out their lawsuit.

The decision means the doctors will go through with administrative hearings in the hopes of having their suspensions lifted. An attorney for the doctors says an appeal of the lawsuit’s dismissal is also likely.

The four doctors — Gentry Dunlop, Robert Maiocco, Deborah Parr and William Stone — were suspended last month. The Colorado Medical Board said they made medical marijuana recommendations to more than 1,500 patients with authorizations for those patients to grow at least 75 plants each. The standard number of plants a medical marijuana patient can grow is six, but doctors can recommend more if they think it is medically necessary.

The Medical Board said the doctors’ recommendations weren’t up to accepted medical standards. The suspensions meant the doctors couldn’t practice medicine at all.

The doctors sued, saying that the Medical Board didn’t give them a chance to respond before suspending them and that the Medical Board suspended them based on a nonexistent standard for plant counts. A judge in Denver agreed and ordered the suspensions temporarily lifted, though the doctors still weren’t able to recommend marijuana.

But, in an order last week, Denver District Court Judge Ross Buchanan concluded he should have instead dismissed the case. Buchanan said state law prohibits him from acting before the doctors have first gone through all the available administrative hearings.

Robert Corry, an attorney for the doctors, said hearings on the suspensions were scheduled for this week.

“I’m not optimistic,” Corry said.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com