For the second time this year, a judge has tossed out a criminal case against a doctor accused of writing bad medical-marijuana recommendations to undercover police officers. Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour dismissed the case against Dr. Manuel Aquino-Villaman following a hearing Friday. Samour said Aquino-Villaman’s actions were lawful under the Colorado Constitution, according to a court summary of the hearing. He also said the charges should be dropped because officials failed to preserve key evidence. Aquino-Villaman had been charged with felony conspiracy to distribute marijuana, in addition to forgery and attempt to influence a public servant. It is rare for a judge to dismiss charges before trial, but this is the second time it has happened for a medical-marijuana doctor this year in Arapahoe County. In May, a different judge dismissed the case against Dr. Toribio Robert Mestas, also saying that the doctor’s actions were protected by the Colorado constitution.
The Arapahoe County district attorney’s office declined to comment on the most recent dismissal, saying it has not yet decided whether to appeal. Attorney Lauren Davis, who represented Aquino-Villaman, said both cases show a hostility toward medical marijuana by prosecutors in the 18th Judicial District, which includes Arapahoe County. “Their bias against medical marijuana in Arapahoe and Douglas counties is an affront to the constitutional rights of patients and recommending physicians,” Davis said. Although the doctors — two of more than 1,000 physicians who have recommended medical marijuana in Colorado — are no longer facing criminal charges, neither is currently practicing medicine. In March, Aquino-Villaman voluntarily surrendered his license in the midst of a state Medical Board investigation into a marijuana recommendation he wrote for a pregnant woman. Aquino-Villaman denied wrongdoing and said the woman never disclosed her pregnancy. But his attorney said Aquino-Villaman, now 71, could not afford to continue fighting for his license.
Last month, Mestas agreed to temporarily stop practicing while he is the subject of a Medical Board investigation. A public document about the investigation says only that a Medical Board inquiry panel “had significant concerns that (Mestas) provided substandard care to multiple patients.” In both Aquino-Villaman’s and Mestas’s criminal cases, undercover police officers posed as patients who complained of injuries or other aches in attempting to obtain a medical-marijuana recommendation. After brief exams, the doctors provided the recommendations. Prosecutors argued that the exams were substandard and that the officers never complained of “severe pain” — the condition for which they were recommended marijuana. But the judges ruled the doctors’ diagnoses were reasonable based on the officers’ statements. “The presumption is that doctors are entitled to rely on what patients tell them in the course of an examination,” Davis said. “It’s not the doctor’s job to play policeman.”
via : DenverPost.com
You must be logged in to post a comment.