This week, in our blog "Medical Marijuana Rip-Offs: Five Reasons to Not Pay for Patient Pre-Registration,'" we referred to two different companies: Arizona Dispensary University, and Arizona Comfort Care.
Our opinion on ADU, where we attended a class, has not changed. But at the time the "rip-off" blog was written, we hadn't had an opportunity to speak with a physician from ACC, and the company website gave no information about its physicians. So when we received blog comments and contact information from a Dr. Edgar Suter indicating some of our statements about ACC were incorrect, we called him right away.
It appears we were too hard on Arizona Comfort Care, and need to clarify a few things. ACC is actually a group of board-certified doctors who openly support medical marijuana for qualified patients. And they're already writing recommendations.
"I recognize there are some rip-off artists out there," Suter told us. "But we are not a scam."
Our initial blog, which has since been corrected, originally stated that physicians at Arizona Comfort Care can't write recommendations for medical marijuana. Dr. Suter, who turned out to be a bona fide nuclear medicine specialist, assured us that doctors at ACC, including himself, are indeed writing recommendations for medical marijuana.
But Dr. Suter stressed that not everybody who sends their information to ACC for an evaluation will qualify for medical marijuana, and he's only writing recommendations for patients that he believes, after a full examination, are truly qualified candidates. "We take, I think, great pains to care for the patient and honor the law," Suter says. "We're bending over backwards to make our process fair for everybody."
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Dr. Suter took issue with our use of the term "pre-registration," and pointed out that ACC does not claim to offer "pre-registration."
"The 'New Patient' form on our website is an intake form, not a pre-registration form," Suter says. "It's part of the medical process. We can't properly evaluate patients without knowing their medical history."
In regards to the $160 evaluation charge listed on ACC's website, Suter says, "I've got four children, I have to pay bills, so of course we'll have to charge some fees. But we're not charging everyone $160 to submit new patient forms. That's the fee for a scheduled examination," he says. "We look at the medical history they provide us for free. And if we look at someone's medical history and don't think someone has one of the qualifying conditions, we tell them that and charge them nothing."
This makes Arizona Comfort Care and Dr. Suter the first physicians we've found already writing medical marijuana recommendations. Expect a long line.