About 600 Missouri medical cannabis patients are at risk of losing their program licenses after state regulators found the applicants had submitted physician certification forms with an unauthorized signature. The Department of Health and Senior Services investigation found no evidence that the affected patients were aware the physician listed on the certification was not the physician who met with them.
DHSS spokesperson Lisa Cox told the Springfield News-Leader that the fraud was committed by “a person [or] people impersonating a doctor.”
Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS, said the agency is “working to minimize the impact on them while also holding accountable those who are responsible.”
“Through our many types of regulatory efforts, we remain watchful for any wrongdoing in order to protect Missourians. Our main concern is how this fraudulent activity negatively affects patients …” – Williams in a statement
The department indicated that affected patients will be notified and given 30 days to submit valid certification to DHSS and the case had been referred to the state Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri Board of Healing Arts.
Patients who ultimately have their licenses revoked will be refunded a prorated refund of the original registration fee for the amount of time left on the license.
While medical cannabis sales aren’t expected to begin until later this summer, the state’s industry has been marred with controversy about relationships between industry applicants and members of Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s administration.
Last month, a whistleblower claimed that Wise Heath Solutions, the private company hired to score applications, may have tainted the process and that there are conflicts of interest within DHSS. Wise Health is a joint venture of Nevada-based Veracious Investigative & Compliance Solutions and Oaksterdam University.
As of March 4, more than 800 appeals had been filed by companies that were denied licenses to operate a medical cannabis business in the state and many of the appeals argue that the scoring system used in the licensing process was flawed. A review by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found that some two dozen groups, which each won five or more licenses, had ties to out-of-state cannabusinesses or the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association – or MoCannTrade – whose lobbyist is Steve Tilley. Tilley is also an advisor to the governor.
The Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight is investigating the state’s handling of industry licensing and is seeking records from Parson’s deputy chief of staff, chief operating officer, and Tilley.
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