Michigan Doctor Arrested, Charged For Recommending Marijuana

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In the latest move to curtail medical marijuana activities, the Michigan State Police on Tuesday arrested a prominent physician in central Michigan known for specializing in recommending medical marijuana. Dr. Edward Harwell was today charged with five criminal counts- two counts of making recommendations outside of the bona fide doctor-patient relationship and three counts of falsifying a medical record.

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Dr. Edward Harwell, owner of the Triple M Clinics was taken into custody by MSP officers on Tuesday, February 12 and was held overnight without bond at the Wexford County Jail. Charges were announced at his arraignment. Harwell's bond was set at $20,000.

Revealed in Court today were the details of the charges. On February 5, 2013, Harwell certified two undercover officers for use of medical marijuana without viewing any patient records nor performing a physical examination, according to the charges. Harwell certified another undercover on Tuesday, February 12 and was promptly arrested. Harwell is also accused of listing false medical conditions on the patient's medical records. The prosecution is being handled by the Wexford County Prosecutor's office.

Judge Parsons read the following statements while announcing the charges: "...the defendant did unlawfully conspire combine confederate or agree together with a Rosalind K Swafford to verify severe and chronic pain as a specific diagnosis on a physician's certification... which constituted the debilitating medical condition and did so without establishing a bona fide physician patient relationship and without establishing a factual basis to form the professional opinion that the person was likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the use of marijuana."

During the bond discussion, Judge Parsons also said, "These are very severe crimes; the abuse of medical use of medicine and prescription of medicines is a danger to the public and the court is therefore going to set a bond higher than usual." Harwell, through his attorney, entered a Not Guilty plea to all charges.

Harwell's troubles began in June of 2010, when an article revealed he charged one price to certify patients with medical records and one price for those without them. A sting-style investigation by a local television news team documented the no-records certifications and then took it to their local legislator in November of 2010.  That legislator was Republican Tonya Schuitmaker, who became a member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee in 2011 and is now the Senate's President Pro Tempore. She is a former State Chairperson for ALEC, a think tank credited for generating some of the nation's most conservative public policy.

On August 30, 2012, the Attorney General filed a complaint against Dr. Harwell, alleging Harwell failed to maintain records, require proper documentation and "promotion for personal gain of an unnecessary drug" and "lack of good moral character". The Complaint cites as evidence a former business manager, referred to as S.H., who retained legal counsel against Harwell; the news story;

LARA subpoenaed the records of several patients that had received their certification from Dr. Harwell at a conference in Whitehall, Michigan, and at the Trpile M Clinics.; Harwell was unable to produce the records. He was accused of six counts: negligence,  incompetence, lack of good moral character, promotion of a drug for personal gain, failure to maintain records and failure to respond to a subpoena. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website lists Harwell as having an open formal complaint filed against him. The complaint sought sanctions against Harwell's license to practice, not criminal charges.

Dr. Harwell is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit and is board certified in nuclear medicine and radiology, according to an online physician's listing serviceAnother report lists him as a brain surgeon and a general practitioner. Wexford County is in the northern half of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, near the ski resort and vacation haven of Traverse City. His practice is based out of Cadillac. The LARA complaint states Harwell also owned the Liberty Clinic in Ann Arbor, which has been shuttered for more than a year.

Court proceedings today were recorded by Eric VanDussen, a journalist and videographer known to fight for the right to video medical marijuana court cases.  VanDussen has in the past won approval from the Supreme Court of Michigan to record a very unwilling Court of Appeals. The video recording of today's court proceedings against Dr. Harwell can be found on his homepage, located HERE.

You can find the original text of LARA's 2012 complaint HERE.

Source: The Compassion Chronicles

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