A CBS 2 undercover investigation found medical marijuana clinics selling doctor-recommended medical marijuana certificates without doctors present.
Los Angeles is about to implement some of the toughest restrictions in the state on medical marijuana dispensaries. But in an exclusive CBS 2 News hidden-camera investigation, we went undercover into medical clinics and found that recommendations for medical marijuana are being sold without ever seeing a doctor.
We found a man, who answers to the name of Dr. Scott, when he provides patients with what amounts to a prescription for medical marijuana. We don’t know if he was smoking some of his own medicine or tobacco, when we caught him smoking a pipe in his car outside the clinic. But we do know he is not a doctor.
David Goldstein: “How do you do that? Only a doctor can give out recommendations?”
Dr. Scott: “I don’t have to talk to you, dude.”
Undercover producer: “I’m confused. Is this a doctor’s office?”
“Yes it is.”
At another location across town, a place bills itself as a doctor’s office, but when we were there, there was no doctor, just prescriptions for sale and medical marijuana.
We found it over and over — obtaining certificates to buy medical marijuana without ever seeing a doctor.
With one of these cards or certificates, small amounts of pot become legal in California! With one you can buy marijuana at hundreds of dispensaries, like one we found in the L.A. area.
The law says in order to get a certificate, you have to be recommended by a doctor, but that is not what we found.
Undercover producer: “Can I get my card here?”
“Can I do it legal?”
“Yeah go ahead.”
We sent an undercover producer with a hidden camera to a clinic in the Garmet District.
Tobias: “My name is Tobias…”
A man named Tobias said we could easily get a recommendation.
Tobias: “We’ve got to send your paperwork to get approved, so you have to wait a second.”
He claimed to fax the paperwork to a doctor and minutes later…
Undercover producer: “How much was it?”
Tobias: “Sixty dollars.”
We got it. And he bragged about others who also come here.
“You know what’s funny. We get a lot of people from UPS.”
Undercover producer: “You get delivery boys?”
Tobias: “All the time. Another big market are LAUSD teachers.”
Undercover producer: “Stop it, LAUSD teachers?!”
Tobias: “Dead serious.”
Tobias then told us to go to another room where pot was for sale with our new recommendation.
Undercover producer: “So what do you guys have? This is like Candyland.”
We walked out with the certificate signed by a Dr. Keith Wresch, who we never saw.
Dr. Wresch admits he prescribes medical marijuana, but says he has nothing to do with this clinic.
Dr. Wresch: “I mean it’s a forgery. It’s something they shouldn’t be doing. No I’m not happy about them doing it.”
Tobias admits he has no medical training, but claims Dr. Wresch is involved.
David Goldstein: “Are you a doctor?”
David Goldstein: “Dr. Wresch says you’re just using his name here.”
Tobias: “No, I’m not using his name.”
David Goldstein: “That he has nothing to do with this?”
Tobias: “OK, you can believe what you want to believe, but that’s not the truth.”
That’s not the only place we obtained certificates without ever seeing a doctor.
Undercover producer: “Are you a doctor?”
One man said he worked under a doctor — whatever that meant. We got a recommendation from him one day.
Undercover producer: “Hello.”
“Are you a new patient?”
Undercover producer: “Yeah.”
The next day we went there he was the receptionist.
And at another clinic, a man answered to the name of Dr. Scott. We caught him smoking something in his car after he pulled up outside the clinic where he works.
Dr Scott: “Nice to meet you. We’ll get you in there soon.”
Our undercover producer met with him. He asked her a few questions about her ailment and immediately came up with a solution.
Dr Scott: “Have you ever tried marijuana?”
But when she asked about his qualifications…
Undercover producer: “I was just wondering…you say you’re a doctor right?”
Dr Scott: “P.A., yes.”
He admitted he was just a P.A. or physician’s assistant. But in less than four minutes she was licensed to buy pot.
Dr Scott: “Are you taking any other medications?”
Undercover producer: “None.”
Dr Scott: “Let’s get you licensed then, OK?”
Undercover producer: “Great. It’ll be $60, huh?”
The recommendation was stamped with the signature of Dr. Jerome McCuin. He’s an anesthesiologist who lives in Rancho Cucamonga, 50 miles away.
Doctor McCuin: “This is a forgery.”
Doctor McCuin also claims his name is being used.
Doctor McCuin: “This is not me. I mean I don’t know anything about it.”
The California medical board is trying to take away Dr. McCuin’s license for an unrelated matter. He admits he worked briefly at the clinic a few months ago. But says he never gave his permission to use his name.
Dr Scott: “You want to fill one of these out.”
We caught up with Scott at the hemp convention in downtown L.A. last week, where he was issuing marijuana recommendations with a huge crowd waiting in line.
David Goldstein: “You a doctor?
Dr Scott: “Physicians assistant.”
David Goldstein: “You giving our recommendations here?”
Dr Scott: “We’re doing recommendations at our booth, yes.”
David Goldstein: “How can you do that? Only a doctor can do recommendations?”
Dr Scott: “I don’t have to talk with you, dude.”
David Goldstein: “But only doctors can do recommendations.”
Dr Scott: “Actually, if you look at the statutes of California, you know the appropriate answer is yes, we can do it.”
But the Governing Board of Physicians Assistants says that while P.A.’s can evaluate a patient, only a physician is authorized to recommend medical use of marijuana.
In all we went to five clinics and got recommendations signed by five different doctors.
“There you are. Your signature right there please.”
We never saw any of the physicians during the evaluations.
“They’re simply out there trying to make a buck.”
This undercover LAPD detective investigates the city’s growing medical marijuana trade and says these clinics are popping up everywhere.
“Not a surprise there is a number of places that are set up as medical marijuana recommendation mill that simply operate on a daily basis to churn out as many recommendations for cash as they can,” the LAPD detective said.
Because of our report, police now say they will start investigating the clinics after we found doctor-recommended medical marijuana without ever seeing a doctor.