Doctor might lose medical license for prescribing pot cookies to a kindergartner for temper tantrums

William S. Eidelman, a Los Angeles doctor, is battling with the Medical Board of California over the revocation of his license, for prescribing a boy medical marijuana. (Photo: Getty Images)
William S. Eidelman, a Los Angeles doctor, is battling with the Medical Board of California over the revocation of his license, for prescribing a boy medical marijuana. (Photo: Getty Images)

A California doctor is contesting the revocation of his medical license by the state medical board, after improperly diagnosing a child with attention-deficit and bipolar disorders, then prescribing him marijuana cookies to treat his temper tantrums.

According to a proposed decision by the Medical Board of California first reported by the Los Angeles Times, William S. Eidelman’s license was to be revoked on Jan. 4, but a judge ordered a temporary stay on the revocation, allowing him to continue treating patients, excluding minors (Eidelman also cannot prescribe marijuana to adults without obtaining their medical histories and performing an examination). A hearing for Eidelman has been scheduled for March 12.

I expect to win the appeal,” Eidelman, 69, who specializes in natural medicine and cannabis treatment, told Yahoo Lifestyle.

However, a spokesperson for the medical board told Yahoo Lifestyle that Eidelman’s medical license has been revoked. “The Medical Board of California has not seen a court order, signed by a judge, indicating that the revocation was stayed. Accordingly, Eidelman’s license is currently revoked.” (On the board’s website, Eidelman’s license is listed as “revoked“).

The spokesperson added that the issue was “more of a paperwork omission,” saying, “The Medical Board has yet to see the court order signed by a judge that could stay the revocation.”

The case involves a patient of Eidelman’s, who brought his son, then 5, to the doctor’s Hollywood office for “uncontrollable behavior and temper tantrums,” seeking a medical marijuana prescription.

California’s Compassionate Use Act,” passed in 1996, ensures that “Seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person’s health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.” 

Eidelman had been prescribing the treatment to the father and his other child, for reported diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder (although the board’s decision states that the father admitted that his bipolar diagnosis is not accurate).

After a 20- to 30-minute assessment during which the boy “was normal appearing,” Eidelman ruled that the boy had a “probable combination” of the two conditions and recommended that the child be fed “small quantities of cannabis in cookies.”

The father began feeding his son a pot cookie in the morning and noted an improvement in his son’s behavior. However, when he asked the school nurse to administer an afternoon cookie, she reported it to officials, who in turn, called child protective services and the police.

The board said Eidelman acted in “gross negligence, repeated negligent acts and demonstrated incompetence and general unprofessional conduct in his diagnosis and his cannabis recommendation.”

Eidelman admitted in the board’s decision that he did not reach out to the school to learn more about the boy’s behavior, seek out the boy’s medical records or refer him to a pediatrician or pediatric psychiatrist.

The decision reported that: “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 family lives 90 miles from Eidelman’s office. The document later read, “It is clear from his interview with the Board that [Eidelman] had not even a basic understanding of the diagnostic criteria for either ADHD or Bipolar Disorder…”

As the Los Angeles Times reported, prescribing medical marijuana was not the issue cited for the revocation of the license. One expert quoted in the decision argued that pot has been recommended for children suffering from seizures, as well as mood and behavioral disorders. Eidelman was faulted for misdiagnosing two conditions that the boy does not suffer from.

The board also considered Eidelman’s disciplinary history of prescribing marijuana in the early 2000s to four undercover detectives who did not suffer from serious medical conditions, without examining them.

On his website, Eidelman asks his patients to defend him to the board.

“The Administrative Law Judge, who ordered the revocation, ruled I had made the wrong diagnosis on a child to whom I issued the cannabis recommendation, and felt that was enough basis to revoke my license to protect the public,” he wrote. “I believe I will win on appeal, for a long list of reasons.  One main reason is that the child was given an updated version of the same diagnosis one and a half years after our last visit.  Even the Board’s expert agreed that proves I got the diagnosis right.”

He invited patients to write letters to the medical board explaining how he has successfully treated them, with or without marijuana.

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