When I left you last week, I was driving home from the pot clinic, thinking that in a week or so, I would be shopping for 5-gallon buckets, grow lights and clones.
My bad. It took longer than that. A lot longer, in fact.
Because doctors are busy, and I didn't see the need for a huge rush, I waited a full 30 days before calling to check on the medical records the MMJ clinic was going to get from my physician. No one ever called to say there was a problem.
When I called the clinic, the receptionist was a bit gruff. They never received the records, she said curtly. No offer to help. No offer to call my doctor to ask about the records. Not a lot of compassion.
None, in fact.
At this point, my skepticism began to overtake my benefit-of-the-doubtism about the Arizona Cannabis Physicians Group clinic, which is part of the USA Cannabis Physicians Group, with offices in California, Michigan, Washington and Arizona (Tucson, Tempe and Phoenix).
It was starting to seem even more icky and sketchy than it did on the marketing-heavy website and during the exam. Just in case, I asked about the refund policy.
"We don't have a refund policy," the receptionist said. "The doctor deserves to be paid for his time."
One reason I chose the USA Cannabis Physicians Group was the potential refund. Nothing to lose, remember? Suddenly, there was something to lose—the $143 I paid for the evaluation.
She explained that the case was basically in limbo. No refund could be offered, because the doctor hadn't rejected my certification, per se. He simply hadn't been able to make a decision without records.
Then she gave me a number to call about a possible refund (two minutes after telling me they had no refund policy), and promised to send the request for my records again, "right now."
I waited a few days, and then called my primary-care doctor. The office had never received any request for my records—not a first one, not a second one. The woman at Arizona Cannabis Physicians Group was apparently lying.
At this point, I thought I might have to bail on the MMJ clinic, so after I asked my doctor to fax my records, I asked for a referral to another clinic, just in case. He told me to call Tucson Alternative Medical Solutions, an eastside clinic run by physicians. I called them.
Phone not in service. Dead end.
I started looking around for other options, all of which were going to add an unpleasant $150 to my MMJ-card tally, which was already going to be at least $300.
Meanwhile, Arizona Cannabis Physicians got my records within about two days of my asking, much to the new receptionist's apparent annoyance. The new receptionist wasn't much more compassionate than the first, and didn't know why my records requests weren't sent.
Although I have suffered from chronic pain for more than 20 years, I do not have a long list of recent doctor visits. I gave up a long time ago on codeine and Vicodin, and there is a vast stretch of medical emptiness in my life, after I lost my job and discovered that unemployment alone—$247 per week—was too much income to qualify for AHCCCS.
So, my recent medical records are light on documentation—and documentation is something doctors attest to having seen or not seen in their medical-marijuana certifications.
In the end, the highly marketed and seemingly profit-conscious Arizona Cannabis Physicians Group doctor, who may or may not have a motorcycle by now, was convinced that I do indeed suffer from chronic pain. But it just wasn't there in my medical records. So he graciously offered to diagnose me himself ... for another $100.
After all, the doctor has a right to be paid for his time.