Dr. Robert Sterner

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Dr. Robert Sterner

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:01 pm

San Diego Online wrote:<span class="postbigbold">Doctor penalized for cannabis-prescribing methods</span>

The San Diego Union-Tribune
By David Hasemyer, Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:03 p.m. June 15, 2009

<table class="posttable" align="right" width="280"><tr><td class="postcell"><img src="bin/sterner_robert.jpg"></td></tr><tr><td class="postcell">
Dr. Robert Sterner is shown in his Middletown office. - 2007 U-T file photo

Online: To read the state medical board's order against Dr. Robert Sterner and his expected appeal, go to http://uniontrib.com/more/documents. DIEGO — A Middletown doctor who fervently advocates the medical benefits of marijuana has been put on probation for seven years and suspended from practice for 15 days for failing to follow established medical standards when prescribing cannabis.

The Medical Board of California also is requiring Robert Sterner to enroll in a number of medical refresher courses, including classes on ethics, prescribing drugs and keeping medical records.

It had accused Sterner, 52, of negligence in issuing medical marijuana recommendations to two undercover police officers. It also alleged incompetence, saying he lacked knowledge about the safe use of marijuana and its therapeutic value.

The probationary period began last week and the suspension is scheduled to start July 27.

Sterner has denied the accusations and is preparing an appeal of the medical board's penalties. He said he didn't violate standards of care and has become the target of authorities because he prescribes marijuana. Sterner has been licensed in California since 1983.

He was among a number of doctors targeted in a 2006 sting by the San Diego Police Department and the District Attorney's Office because they seemed to be issuing a significant number of marijuana recommendations to young patients who didn't have serious medical conditions, according to the medical board's accusation filed in Administrative Law Court.

The undercover operation was recorded. In one instance, an undercover officer asked Sterner to appoint him as a caregiver for a dog, a designation that would allow the detective to obtain marijuana in the animal's name.

Sterner joked that only two-legged patients were covered by California's medical marijuana law. Nevertheless, he gave the officer a blank form on which the detective later wrote in his dog's name and used it to obtain cannabis.

Following a five-day hearing earlier this year, an administrative law judge concluded that Sterner violated numerous state standards of care, including telling patients that marijuana would not cause cancer and issuing a prescription for a drug that could disguise the use of marijuana.

The judge also ruled that Sterner could not be disciplined for issuing the blank caregiver form because lawyers for the medical board did not establish what the standard of care should be when issuing those authorizations.

David Hasemyer: (619) 542-4583;
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