IMAGE: chris lydgate
Under the agreement, Dr. Phillip Leveque's license would be suspended for 90 days and he would be fined $5,000. Following his suspension, however, Leveque would be able to resume his medical practice--including approving patients for the marijuana program.
"I'm looking after my patients," Leveque told WW. "They think I'm doing the right thing, I think I'm doing the right thing."
A plain-spoken World War II combat veteran, Leveque has become a folk hero for legions of patients who couldn't find physicians prepared to sign applications for medical-marijuana cards. "Those other doctors who won't sign the applications..." he says, "I am disgusted with them."
When it became apparent that Leveque had signed hundreds of applications without meeting patients, bureaucrats changed the rules to require physical examinations.
The BME also sprang into action, investigating claims of negligence and requiring Leveque to undergo physical, psychological and neurological evaluation.
It's not clear the board found what it was seeking. The psychologist's report concluded, "This intelligent gentleman is in the 97th or 98th percentile."
"If I had hurt a single person, [the board] would have hit me with a ton of bricks," Leveque says.
Until the suspension takes effect, Leveque continues to holds regular clinics under the auspices of advocacy groups such as Voter Power. "I've got 2,000 patients that I'm responsible for," he says. "I started with them, I've got to finish with them. I learned in the Army not to pay too much attention to second lieutenants."
Meanwhile, the Patient Resource Center--a downtown-Portland cannabis club for medical-marijuana patients--is scaling back its operations. The problem, according to Voter Power director John Sajo, is that a surge in membership (partly as a result, Sajo says, of publicity from the WW cover story"Sense + Sinsemilla," April 3, 2002) swamped the Center's meager supply of "excess" medical-marijuana grown by state-sanctioned caregivers.
As a result, the Center will stay open just one day a week until organizers can balance supply and demand. "We need people to be giving as well as taking," Sajo explains.