Gersten v. Sun Pain Mgmt., PLLC – 4/18/2017

May 2, 2017

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act does not provide a registered qualifying patient with a private cause of action against a physician.

A patient suffering from chronic pain began using medical marijuana pursuant to state law.  His doctor then discharged him as his patient.  The patient sued, alleging that the doctor had violated Section 3 of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, codified at A.R.S. § 36-2813(C), which states that a registered qualifying patient’s use of medical marijuana “must be considered the equivalent of the use of any other” physician-directed medication and will not “otherwise disqualify” that patient from medical care.  The patient sought damages and an order requiring the doctor to continue treating him in the same manner and at the same rate as before.  The superior court granted the doctor’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

The Court of Appeals affirmed.  It held that although § 36-2813(C) requires equal treatment, it does not obligate a physician to extend or continue medical care, nor does it regulate the relationship between physician and patient in any way.  Accordingly, a patient may not assert a cause of action against his treating physician under § 36-2813(C), and the complaint failed to state a claim.

Judge Norris authored the opinion of the court, in which Judges Thumma and Downie joined.