Ninety percent of medical-marijuana cardholders didn't qualify for nothing but "chronic and severe pain," as Channel 5's Morgan Loew reported last week, the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services told us this morning.
New Times writer Matthew Hendley wrote several articles recently about Loew's May 15 report on how easy it was to obtain a medical-marijuana card, noting several problems with the report. For one, Loew signed a form attesting to the fact that he had chronic and severe back pain, so he shouldn't have complained that the doctor did anything wrong. But Hendley also pointed out that Loew incorrectly stated -- and a graphic accompanying his broadcast showed -- that 90 percent of cardholders were qualified only for severe and chronic pain, and not for other state-approved qualifying ailments such as AIDs, cancer and glaucoma.
In a Facebook post late night, Loew doubled-down on the debate, complaining that New Times had criticized his work and saying that, "my numbers were right, by the way."
Hendley, in his critique, mentions, quotes Loew as saying in his broadcast, "Ninety percent of the certifications are for severe and chronic pain... "Not cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, ALS, or any of the other specific illnesses that qualify someone for medical marijuana."
Though the percentage of pain-only patients in the program is substantial, DHS' web site states that it's actually 71 percent and not 90 percent -- as Hendley's been saying. The other 29 percent do, in fact, have cancer, AIDS or one of the other qualifying ailments.
DHS Director Will Humble tells us this morning that not only was Loew's info incorrect, but that he'd sent Loew an email with the facts after his report ran. We're not aware of any correction made by Channel 5.
Here's the email Humble sent Loew on May 17:
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Just BTW: The New Times ran a blog yesterday criticizing the 90% severe and chronic pain reference. As an fyi... the 90% figure includes the patients that qualified via only Severe & Chronic Pain + the patients that qualified with more than 1 condition- one of which was severe and chronic pain.
Loew responded to our request for comment this morning by accusing us of twisting the facts.
Guess he's not working on that correction.