HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) – A Hollywood physician who recommended that a father give his 5-year-old son marijuana cookies to control temper tantrums is fighting to maintain his medical license, but the pot recommendation was not in itself what got him into trouble.
Dr. William Eidelman, a natural medicine physician, improperly diagnosed the boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder before recommending marijuana as the treatment, according to a December medical board decision cited by the Los Angeles Times.
The Times reported that the medical board ordered Eidelman's license to be revoked as of Jan. 4, but according to his attorney, a Superior Court judge in San Francisco issued a temporary stay allowing him to continue practicing medicine. The order, however, bars him from treating patients under age 18 and from recommending cannabis treatment for adult patients "without obtaining a medical history and conducting a medical examination of the adult patient."
Another court hearing in the case is set for March 12.
In an exclusive KCAL9 interview, Eidelman defended his recommendation.
"Turns out it's a safe and effective medicine, like almost none other," he said.
The case against Eidelman stems from his treatment of a young boy who was misbehaving in school and brought to the doctor's office by his father in September 2012, according to the medical board report.
"The school has basically kicked him out and he could come back when he was on medicine," Eidelman said.
The doctor added the boy's father didn't want him on conventional pharmaceuticals, as he was concerned about the side effects.
"Eventually, the father heard that cannabis might work. He came to me to get the recommendation, then discovered that it worked," Eidelman said.
Much of Eidelman's practice centers on writing letters for patients to obtain medical marijuana, which he said he began doing in 1997, shortly after the state first legalized the drug for medical use.
After a 30-minute visit with the boy and his father, the doctor wrote in his chart that the child had a "probable combination of ADD/ADHD and bipolar disorder" and should "try cannabis in small amounts in cookies," according to the medical board's decision.
The doctor had previously recommended cannabis for the father's ADHD and bipolar disorder, according to the board report.
Once the school discovered the boy was on marijuana, the police were notified.
The board found Eidelman "grossly negligent" for determining the boy's diagnosis without consulting a psychiatrist, collecting information from the boy's teachers or asking his father about the child's moods and sleep patterns.
"Tantrums alone do not support either diagnosis," the board's decision said. "Being agitated and having trouble sitting still hint at ADHD, but could simply hint at a preschooler not happy to have driven many miles to a doctor's appointment."
The board did not find fault with Eidelman for recommending marijuana to a child. The decision states that there is not enough scientific evidence to disprove that cannabis could have benefits for children.
"It has not been established, by clear and convincing evidence, that the recommendation of medical marijuana to (the boy), with his father's consent, violated the standard of care," the decision reads.
However, the board still views the recommendation for cannabis as improper because the boy did not actually have the conditions that Eidelman diagnosed him with and for which he prescribed the cannabis.
Eidelman told KCAL9's Tom Wait he still stands by his recommendation.
"The dad testified in court that the teacher said...'Finally, a doctor got it right the first time,'" he said.
The decision also took into account that Eidelman had been previously punished for prescribing marijuana to several undercover investigators in 2000 and 2001.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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