Feb 142013
 February 14, 2013

edward harwell doctor arrested michigan recommend marijuanaIn the latest move to curtail medical marijuana activities, the Michigan State Police on Tuesday arrested a prominent physician in central Michigan known for specializing in recommending medical marijuana. Dr. Edward Harwell was today charged with five criminal counts- two counts of making recommendations outside of the bona fide doctor-patient relationship and three counts of falsifying a medical record.

Dr. Edward Harwell, owner of the Triple M Clinics was taken into custody by MSP officers on Tuesday, February 12 and was held overnight without bond at the Wexford County Jail. Charges were announced at his arraignment. Harwell’s bond was set at $20,000.

Revealed in Court today were the details of the charges. On February 5, 2013, Harwell certified two undercover officers for use of medical marijuana without viewing any patient records nor performing a physical examination, according to the charges. Harwell certified another undercover on Tuesday, February 12 and was promptly arrested. Harwell is also accused of listing false medical conditions on the patient’s medical records. The prosecution is being handled by the Wexford County Prosecutor’s office.

Judge Parsons read the following statements while announcing the charges: “…the defendant did unlawfully conspire combine confederate or agree together with a Rosalind K Swafford to verify severe and chronic pain as a specific diagnosis on a physician’s certification… which constituted the debilitating medical condition and did so without establishing a bona fide physician patient relationship and without establishing a factual basis to form the professional opinion that the person was likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the use of marijuana.”

During the bond discussion, Judge Parsons also said, “These are very severe crimes; the abuse of medical use of medicine and prescription of medicines is a danger to the public and the court is therefore going to set a bond higher than usual.” Harwell, through his attorney, entered a Not Guilty plea to all charges.

Harwell’s troubles began in June of 2010, when an article revealed he charged one price to certify patients with medical records and one price for those without them. A sting-style investigation by a local television news team documented the no-records certifications and then took it to their local legislator in November of 2010.  That legislator was Republican Tonya Schuitmaker, who became a member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee in 2011 and is now the Senate’s President Pro Tempore. She is a former State Chairperson for ALEC, a think tank credited for generating some of the nation’s most conservative public policy.

On August 30, 2012, the Attorney General filed a complaint against Dr. Harwell, alleging Harwell failed to maintain records, require proper documentation and “promotion for personal gain of an unnecessary drug” and “lack of good moral character”. The Complaint cites as evidence a former business manager, referred to as S.H., who retained legal counsel against Harwell; the news story;

LARA subpoenaed the records of several patients that had received their certification from Dr. Harwell at a conference in Whitehall, Michigan, and at the Trpile M Clinics.; Harwell was unable to produce the records. He was accused of six counts: negligence,  incompetence, lack of good moral character, promotion of a drug for personal gain, failure to maintain records and failure to respond to a subpoena. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website lists Harwell as having an open formal complaint filed against him. The complaint sought sanctions against Harwell’s license to practice, not criminal charges.

Dr. Harwell is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit and is board certified in nuclear medicine and radiology, according to an online physician’s listing serviceAnother report lists him as a brain surgeon and a general practitioner. Wexford County is in the northern half of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, near the ski resort and vacation haven of Traverse City. His practice is based out of Cadillac. The LARA complaint states Harwell also owned the Liberty Clinic in Ann Arbor, which has been shuttered for more than a year.

Court proceedings today were recorded by Eric VanDussen, a journalist and videographer known to fight for the right to video medical marijuana court cases.  VanDussen has in the past won approval from the Supreme Court of Michigan to record a very unwilling Court of Appeals. The video recording of today’s court proceedings against Dr. Harwell can be found on his homepage, located HERE.

You can find the original text of LARA’s 2012 complaint HERE.

Source: The Compassion Chronicles

About Rick Thompson

"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer."Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.
  • http://www.facebook.com/kathy.nobrega Kathy Nobrega

    screw
    you Michigan. YOU should be charged with being accomplices to
    genocide. CANNABIS CURES DIS-EASES. CANNABIS HELPS WITH DIS-EASES.
    CANNABIS CURES CANCERS.

  • Freedom Fighter

    LEGALIZE FREEDOM!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/macm25 Corey Miller

    The headline is wrong for this one. The doctor obviously was trying to make a buck. He is no hero, he is a money making sap just like so many others in the industry. Automatically he is disqualified from anything compassionate when he is trying to turn a Medical program into a recreational program is just not where the voters in Michigan are right now!

    • MassCentral

      Compassionate is when you allow someone to make up their own minds as to what to do with their body.

      So he makes a buck,,, I’ll pay that to stay out of jail,, Budweiser makes a buck and nobody complains.

      It’s CRAZY,, a woman can get an abortion but NOT smoke a joint??

      • http://www.facebook.com/angie.joseph3 Angie Sweatland Joseph

        in absolute agreement!

    • Rick Thompson

      The headline is correct.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brucewayne.ryan BruceWayne Ryan

      oh bite me

  • GhettO1stamendment

    Something that is a huge revenue building and a crime lowering fix you want to destroy for inversely proportional results? What is wrong with you?????????????Mexico wins again! Thank a Judge.

  • http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/ M. Simon

    I have a charge for Michigan –

    Medical Marijuana prohibition is a crime against humanity and a violation of the religious precept – heal the sick.

    Pass it on.

  • Louie

    Thats Michigan folks. I am on my way to Colorado this summer., after a visit with fam. in the South. Michigan was once a good state to live in. It;s politics are now screwed.

  • Ahnlaashock

    While you would have to look a long time to find someone that supports medical cannabis more than I do, I am struck by the fact that this article seems to be about simple profiteering, with charges brought for that purpose, and not because a doctor followed procedures and made a recommendation.

    Yes, it is likely being used as a fear tactic to discourage doctors from making recommendations, but if you have to falsify medical documents to give a recommendation, who is really being served? Some of us are actual people with debilitating conditions that really do use cannabis as a medicine, in my case to ovoid Oxycodone use.

    Compassionate care does not require the tactics of shady used car salesmen, whether you are a doctor or not.

  • ifear mygov

    I demand ,as a citizen of Michigan, that the officers involved be prosecuted under the mmma as enacted for attempting to falsely aquire an mmmp registry. Fair is fair.

    • 2buds

      Just remember – It’s legal for cops to lie. Not anyone else – just cops.

  • justguy

    This is not about marijuana it seems to be about an unethical doc who broke the law.
    I am a true believer of medical marijuana and making it mainstream and even legal but one should follow the law.
    @ Rick Tompson i feel that is is an artical that should be seen but worded differently.
    for myself I would blame the doc for curtail medical marijuana activitie. Michigan state put medical marijuana on their books and even allow dispenceries (unlike where I live in hawaii they have a medical marijuana but no dispenceries) That is a step forward.

    • MassCentral

      an unethical doctor breaking an unethical law,,, Who should we prosecute first?

      • justguy

        i say prosecute both…but still yet massCentral his action caused a step backwards into getting rid of this unethical law. The state took the step to start changing the law. Give them credit. You might ask if he did that for medical marijuana what else is he doing when it comes to the poison called proscription drugs.

        • Babs

          I know from personal experience that he does not wrie prescriptions!! That is why he is pro marijuana for pain management, he knows the evils of pharmaceuticals I couldn’t even get one for an antibiotic. He most certrtainly gives a hands on physical, weight and blood pressure. He keeps patient records. Promotes safe and legal practices of medication!, You should know the truth and know all facts before you malign someone before conviction!!
          .

          • justguy

            i did not place a meligan on him.I started the statement out by the words
            “you might ask” is more like a question then a maligan.
            by the way babs the charges against him come from somewhere.
            I would “think” it is not from him Promoting safe and legal practices of medication!,
            Question @babs what do you mean “wire”?

        • Rick Thompson

          I have heard you say the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act is an unethical law several times, justguy. What do you mean by that? And, are you really asking us to give credit to the state for putting someone in jail? The decision to act in this criminal manner, instead of a civil one, is the crux of the problem here.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brucewayne.ryan BruceWayne Ryan

        the lawmakers who perpetuate a travesty.

    • Rick Thompson

      justguy, what you said disturbs me. He has not been found guilty of anything, just charged. I am not willing to blame anyone for something the police said they did, having been falsely accused of things myself. It would be bad journalism to assume he was wrong, even though the description is pretty clear.

  • Steve

    I don’t know why everyone is so upset. If this doctor were following rules and regs by doing a physical examination of the patient and/or viewing patient records these charges may very well have not been brought against them.

    Let’s be reasonable, folks. If we’re going to have a regulatory system we need to follow said system.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brucewayne.ryan BruceWayne Ryan

      A bad law is no law. ~ St. Augustine

      • http://www.facebook.com/angie.joseph3 Angie Sweatland Joseph

        I do not believe that to be true!

    • pierider

      The reason everyone is upset is because this is the kind of dirty, underhanded thing the cops have been doing since Nixon decided to punish the hippies with a generations-long drug war ya big silly. Pass the Cheetos.

  • http://twitter.com/Coinspinn3r Coinspinner

    Ah cripes, we’ve been through this in California. He’ll be found totally innocent, MI is just out money.

    • http://www.facebook.com/angie.joseph3 Angie Sweatland Joseph

      I hope so! Unjust!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000764575098 Mimi Miller

    ALEC She is a former State Chairperson for ALEC, a think tank credited for
    generating some of the nation’s most conservative public policy. Not saying the Doctor did or did not break laws but ALEC has been getting things arranged in America for too long.

    • Rick Thompson

      Exactly why I included that in the article. Glad to see people are aware of the ALEC problem.

  • Patient1985

    I love how this guy smoked the MCAT and the Michigan state police think they know more about medicine. Stick to what your brain is limited to understand, stop arresting doctors. And same to the attorney general, what qualifies you I even have an opinion about medical mj?

    • Rick Thompson

      There is a perfectly legitimate system to penalize doctors for improperly doing their job- it’s called a sanction system employed by the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs department, not the Michigan State Police. No doctor should ever have to go to jail for writing recommendations, even if he was doing it wrong. This is an incorrect fix to the percieved problem.

  • tj

    I just love how the courts and law enforcement tries to apply manmade laws for natural plant that is good is essentially good for you. Keeping us separate fm nature is a great moneymaker for the private jails, drug enforcement agencies; most of which have lost state funding cuz of budget cutbacks, and courts. Tax and regulate us best. But stupid judges and cops sre too stupid to change their ways. We need a revolution and it is coming! As for harwell he will get a slap on the hand. He is retired too so I am sure he is not afraid. In a jury trial, who will u side with? An idiot undrrcover cop who makes money seizing your stuu or doc who is ok with pot?

  • tj

    When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

  • tj

    I just wanna say one thing more. I hate all these lying undercover assholes. And I think we should start a webpage posting and listing all of these pigs, ratsand snitches so everybody can see their face and names. Just like they love to do with us. Shame on all you stupid idiots. Get a real job!

    • pierider

      I’m sure if that isn’t already a crime, it would be the next day after you did it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brucewayne.ryan BruceWayne Ryan

    Impersonation charges against the officers involved would be a start.

  • Thinking Clearly

    Its obvious to me that Michigan’s enforcement efforts are spearheaded by non other than Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who would love to have prescribing doctors in Michigan become fearful of writing a recommendation for the medical use of marijuana. This is a public grandstand play to scare off doctors.

    #1- Disallow all easy access to marijuana by patients by outlawing dispensaries

    #2- Make it unacceptable by way of public humiliation for a doctor to recommend

    Schuette’s private agenda to stop all marijuana is in direct opposition to the will of Michigan’s voters.

    Rick Thompson was correct when he said: “There is a perfectly legitimate system to penalize doctors for
    improperly doing their job- it’s called a sanction system employed by the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs department, not the Michigan State Police. No doctor should ever have to go to jail for writing
    recommendations, even if he was doing it wrong. This is an incorrect fix to the perceived problem.”

    Publicly elected officials need to work for the voters, not themselves. Prohibition is an elitist activity run by profiteers and self serving interests. We need an Attorney General that’s on the same page as the voters.

    • Rick Thompson

      Thanks for the praise. These moves against the different facets of the MMMA- doctors, patients, dispensaries- are all coordinated by the conservative elements in government that want to slow down change and perpetuate the cash-cow forfeiture system.

  • William Smith

    I mean really? For how long now have people been misdiagnosed and died from oxi kotten? Its alot of fuckin people. I just got out of rehab and its full of “prescription” addicts. They arent busting docs for this shit. But oh no, dont prescribe weed. GOD forbid. We need to burn this government to the ground and start over….just sayin

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