Dr. Sue Sisley, Medical-Marijuana Researcher, Fired From U of A Job in Alleged Political Move

Dr. Sue Sisley, the outspoken physician and medical-marijuana researcher, has been fired from a University of Arizona job, possibly due to political pressure.

Joe "Skip" Garcia, the University of Arizona's senior vice president for health sciences, who happens to earn $810,000 a year, is being trounced in the news this morning over this -- accused of doing the bidding of state Senate President Andy Biggs.

See also: -U of A Denies "Political Pressure" Played Role in Firing of Dr. Sue Sisley -Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Should be Qualifying Ailment for Medical Marijuana, Says Local Doctor

Is this how Big Universities operate? According to the Arizona Capitol Times this morning, Garcia asked Sisley to account for her political activity:

"(Skip) said he was calling on behalf of the (university) president's office, and said that if I didn't reply to his request, I wouldn't have a job," Sisley said.

Sisley said Garcia told her that Senate President Andy Biggs had questioned Sisley's activism with members of U of A administration and government relations team, which Sisley said she believed precipitated scrutiny and ultimately her firing.

Sisley is an MD and former clinical faculty member at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. She's been working at the Arizona Telemedicine Program at the U of A's Phoenix medical school, (along with her private telemedicine practice). But now her contract's not being renewed and she has to leave her university position by September 26.

Despite the blame heaped on Garcia in the Cap Times article, a copy of a letter received by New Times shows that Ronald Weinstein, director of the Telemedicine Program, recommended to Garcia that Sisley's contract not be renewed. The June 24 letter from Weinstein to Garcia doesn't shed any light on why the contract isn't to be renewed, however.

Sisley also claims affiliation with the U of A's Department of Psychiatry; we're not sure if that's affected.

Ever since Proposition 203 was approved by voters in 2010, she's been trying to get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) added to the list of qualifying ailments. Last month, an administrative law judge ruled that it should be added. The state Department of Health Services has a deadline of July 9 to "accept, reject or modify" the decision.

Sisley was also in the news back in March, when state Senator Kimberly Yee blocked a bill that would have supported giving state funds to one of Sisley's studies.

The University of Arizona has clammed up on the subject. We'll let you know if Garcia returns our call.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.