LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – The distinction Dr. Joseph Montante now holds is something he does not welcome. He’s now convicted of prescribing medical marijuana without conducting a proper exam.
In the state of Colorado a doctor must find that the patient has a debilitating condition to recommend the use of marijuana. Many see that as being open for interpretation, so law enforcement has stepped in.
Montante’s problems started when an undercover officer visited his office in Loveland. He said he wanted to get a medical marijuana card but he did not have any of the required conditions.
In a tape recording obtained by CBS4 from the visit Montante can be heard asking if the undercover officer had any pain. The officer then told Montante that he hurt his ankle several years ago playing basketball in high school.
“So I guess I had better look at your ankle right?” replied Dr. Montante.
Colorado law requires a bona fide doctor-patient relationship, but the undercover officer’s visit with Montante only took a matter of minutes.
Drug investigators say the doctor’s supervision is incredibly important because although 18 to 21 year olds are not eligible for recreational pot, they are eligible for medical marijuana.
“It’s no different than if they were using prescription pads and writing prescriptions for anyone that comes in with a few bucks in their pocket,” said Jim Gerhardt of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association.
CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger traveled to Montante’s home in Northern Colorado and asked him if he ever recommended marijuana for anyone who didn’t need it.
“No, never,” said Montante. “And I never attempted to deceive anyone.”
Montante was sentenced to 30 days in prison plus 3 years probation for attempting to influence a public servant. His medical license was suspended as well. Montante claims he was entrapped.
“The undercover agent lied to get into my office,” Montante claimed.
His attorney does not feel that the charge is appropriate to the alleged crime and plans to appeal.