San Luis Obispo doctor on probation over pot prescriptions

September 1, 2014
Dr. Atsuko Rees

Dr. Atsuko Rees

By KAREN VELIE
A San Luis Obispo physician who wrote 30,000 prescriptions for medical marijuana in three years has begun a probated sentence. Dr. Atsuko Rees, subject of an exclusive CalCoastNews story, had her medical license suspended for 45 days and remains under probation.

Dr. Rees would see as many as 60 to 70 patients on Fridays, charging $150 to $250 per patient and then writing them prescriptions for marijuana. California law allows physicians to prescribe marijuana, but the law requires that doctors conduct an examination of each patient themselves.

In October, 2010, an undercover San Luis Obispo police officer posing as a patient and claiming to be suffering from back pain went to Dr. Rees at Family Medical on Higuera Street.

Instead of diagnosing the patient herself, Dr. Rees had her physician’s assistant Mary Eanes conduct the evaluation in violation of the law, according to charges filed by the California Attorney General’s Office against Dr. Rees.

At that time, both Dr. Rees and Eanes would approve patients’ medical marijuana status. However, to comply with California law, Dr. Rees would sign off on patients as if she had seen each patient personally, former co-workers told CalCoastNews.

In another undercover operation, an officer posed as a patient seeking a prescription for medical marijuana. Dr. Rees wrote in the patient’s medical record that she performed a medical examination. The officer said she did not and that Dr. Rees began writing the prescription less than three minutes after the examination began. The whole appointment lasted less than six minutes, according to the allegations made by the attorney general’s office.

In 2012, the California Attorney General’s Office filed the accusation brought against Dr. Rees by the Medical Board of California for the following seven causes of discipline: gross negligence in the care and treatment of patients, repeated acts of negligence, incompetence, creation of false medical records, employing a person to procure patients, giving rebates for patient referrals, and failure to use her name in advertising.

Last year, Dr. Rees agreed to a stipulated settlement and disciplinary order in which she lost her license for 45 days and was placed on five years’ probation.

“It is hereby ordered that Physicians and Surgeons Certificate No. C 41745 issued to respondent Atsuko Rees M.D. is revoked,” The settlement says. “However, the revocation is stayed and respondent (Dr. Rees) is placed on probation for five years on the following terms and conditions.”

Those terms included the 45 day suspension, the taking of multiple courses in prescribing practices and medical ethics, hiring a person to monitor her practice and a ban from supervising physician assistants.

After serving her 45 day suspension, Dr. Rees went back to dispensing medical marijuana recommendations at Rees family Medical in San Luis Obispo.

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standup

I laugh at all the naysayers that have posted below. I have gone to Dr. Reese for at least seven years after I had a severe anxiety attack that put me in twin cities hospital. Once I was released, my primary care doctor gave me a prescription for Xanex without even seeing me and people complain about and people are upset about Dr. Reese? Really? She also only charged me $100.00 per visit which is the same any doctor charges for seeing you.


The attorney general can suck eggs as far as I am concerned after the botched doobie dozen raids from 2010. How many of those charges actually stuck? Friggin zero to date. How many ongoing civil suits are there against the state for wrongful everything? Five to be exact. How many cops were on heroin during the investigation of these delivery services? One and now the loser ex officer Cory Pierce is in Lompoc for about another year getting his pipes cleaned daily for bribery and extortion.


People can drink their wine every afternoon as their “medicine” or recreational drug and I will smoke my pot. The evidence shows that by far, alcohol is much worse for you. Pot even much less harmful when you vaporize like me:) Alcohol = poison pot = medicine There is just no money in it for big pharma and they are worried about it cutting into their profits.


topper01

Stoners, I say. I’m living among a generation of Stoners!


mkaney

Even if you think what she did was wrong, you should be equally upset that the following things are even illegal. I’m not sure how anyone can say the free market failed with regard to healthcare, when we haven’t had any free market in healthcare in a long time.


“employing a person to procure patients, giving rebates for patient referrals, and failure to use her name in advertising.”


mkaney

I commend Dr. Rees and her efforts to take the risk of operating in the grey area in order to subvert ridiculous laws and excessive efforts at controlling people’s personal behavior. Judge her all you want, I consider her to be a hero and to represent true American ideals.


mkaney

And NO, she has never written me a prescription! LoL


achillesheal

My hangnail was really hurting. And the pot gave me the relief I needed. This article describes The whole medical marijuana industry . It’s a scam.


Chris R

Who’s getting scammed? The patients more than willing to shell out the $150 for a recommendation? Its not like tax payers are footing the bill for medi-cal patients.


achillesheal

The scam is the claim that marijuana is being used for medicinal purposes.


By and large, it is prescribed by quack doctors to people who visit the “doctor” with the sole intent to walk out with a card to legally smoke pot.


I don’t care about the legalization of marijuana one way or another. The way it has been legalized in california, is a joke.


idrivelandyacht

It is the tax payers who are footing the bill. Where do you think these,”My back hurts or I suffer from migraines,” losers get the money to pay the for the doctor’s appointment to get the prescription???? If not covered by their Medi-Cal, from their welfare check that is used like a debit card. Take the cash from the ATM and pay the Piper…….


kettle

Oh good job turning this into a shame welfare people, perhaps some of them are Hispanic? ohhhh Do they have drivers licenses? Do they vote?

Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Blue dress!


/sarcasm


White privilege.


Perspicacious

Remember when this medicinal hippie lettuce law was debated and passed? The entire thing was promoted on the backs of the terminally ill and “compassion” for them. I have met a couple of dozen people since then with the cards and their problem is more often than not fixable by taking a couple of IB. Some were even prescribed it for depression. Give me a break. Why didn’t the people working to pass the law just be honest? They should have said “We want to get recreationally stoned legally, have compassion and legalize hippie lettuce.”


whatdouno

It’s always amazing to me how people can make such generalized statements with no education. “Some were even prescribed it for depression”

There are studies out by John Hopkins School of Public Health that depressed women are atgreater risk for breast cancer. A MMJ prescription is totally appropriate for depression as an avoidance of even more life threatening disease; which is highly likely if the depression isn’t addressed.

While there are several prescription drugs that are prescribed, they all have side effects, some of which are anxiety and even greater depression. Not all things work for all people, in other words life threatening can mean depression.

Psychiatrists manage medication, typical appointment is 15 minutes and a patient can walk away with several prescriptions, most are mood altering and they make the same fee, but I betyou don’t have a problem with that, right.


smiley

Let’s see, 30,000x$100? Answer $3,000,000. Probably made 4-5,million and got spanked so hard! I don’t think its the governments business but how many little drug dealers are the taxpayers supporting in prison and paying prison guards for? This all stinks


Jon Tatro

Why would anybody get upset with this sentence. Marijuana is considered medicine in California as was voted by the citizens. The Citizens have not legalized marijuana for recreational use. This doctor was not prescribing medicine she was violating the law to make a profit. If she was prescribing oxycodone to heroin junkies would this even been article. She was dealing drugs and got caught it really is that simple.


smiley

She got nothing in the way of punishment! 45 day vacation from work after making Millions! I will take that deal and sell drugs. Bet all those fools in prison on drug charges would take it too. Big $ can do what they want. Small time crooks and pushers get hosed by system.


mkaney

The government has seen fit to take away people’s right to make personal medical decisions. The basis on which this was done is mind bogglingly unintelligent and hypocritical , and the resulting destruction of lives has been a tragedy. She was merely using her role to facilitate people taking back their God given right to make their own decisions. She was foolish, though, because if you game the system like that you have to pay attention to the technicalities, many of which are placed there to prevent any actionable dissent from occurring.


standup

Spoken like a true cop Jon. As police officers plant evidence, you seem to have planted evidence in the story. I have to say I saw nowhere in the article where she was actually dealing drugs.


bobfromsanluis

Just another example of how backward our current laws regarding cannabis are; here is a doctor who saw an opportunity to make some seriously quick money with little effort- the problem is what she did is not legal. When cannabis use, possession and cultivation is legalized for personal use (which is coming, sooner or later) and we have regulation of the commercial aspect of cannabis for profit, many different types of illegal operations like this will disappear. Was the doctor wrong? Absolutely; are our current laws outdated, poorly written and due for a complete overhaul? Without reservation.


Like the whole “the world will end as we know it” concerning same sex marriage, taking away the illegal status of a natural plant that can grow in the wild and allowing adults to consume in a manner that doesn’t endanger others will someday be looked back on as a “why was this such a big deal?”


SloTownMan

Should be in lock up and paying for her stay. License should be lost forever.


catdude

Just wondering, Slotownman, do you ever drink alcohol? ….I thought so….


SloTownMan

Actually you’re correct, I don’t drink alcohol, never did.


mkaney

He was going to get you for hypocrisy if you had said you did. I am going to get you for ignorance for saying you didn’t. How would you know anything about this issue, and why is it your business if other people want to get high? Please don’t tell me about vehicular safety because there are far more problems with idiots driving than people who are high.


However, along with not worrying about what others are doing, I would not expect you to have to pay for their mistakes through healthcare, welfare, or anything of that nature.


whatisup

It is for the same reason it is my business you don’t text while driving. People are stupid, stupid, stupid and sometimes we have to protect ourselves from idiots. I notice you make many subjects your business, many I agree with, but a bit hypocritical of you to use the “what business is it of yours?” when somebody disagrees with you. I suppose you don’t have any kind of insurance where if you have a catastrophic loss you don’t expect the insurance company to pay off to you, i.e., other people paying for your loss.


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