Under normal American circumstances, when one wins a full and complete appeal on a criminal case, they get their rights restored.
At least, that’s how it is supposed to work. And if you’re a physician like Dr. John Nadolny, formerly the medical director of Canna Care Docs, it’s expected that your innocence will result in you getting your license reinstated.
But that isn’t how things have gone down.
Last September, the state Division of Administrative Law Appeals ruled in favor of Nadolny, recommending, “that the [Massachusetts] Board of Registration in Medicine (BORIM) not temporarily suspend Dr. Nadolny.”
At issue—Nadolny had permitted certified nurses under his supervision to write cannabis recommendations. Which was perfectly legal. As the same ruling noted, “When [Nadolny] allowed nurse practitioners to use his online ID, he was following [Department of Public Health’s] advice, and did not delegate to nurse practitioners his authority to issue marijuana certifications; they had independent authority to issue certifications.”
Nevertheless, it is now 2017, and Nadolny still has not had his medical license reinstated. Which begs a serious question: Why?
In short, the problem appears to be dirty politics. With a touch of reefer madness, as these things tend to go.
Nadolny had a tough 2016. I don’t just say that because he is my personal physician or because Canna Care has sponsored my show on WEMF Radio, The Young Jurks. I say that because what’s transpired is unfathomable. Even as far as Commonwealth precedents go…
The doctor’s nightmare started last March, when a motorist named David Njuguna killed a Mass State Trooper in a horrific car accident on I-90. With help from members of an idiot media who simply parroted the off-base allegations, authorities managed to link the driver to not only marijuana, but specifically to Canna Care, where Njuguna had obtained a recommendation for medical marijuana. Without due process, Nadolny had his medical license suspended.
Enter Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who was actively campaigning against legalization when Njuguna killed the trooper. The governor made statements to the Boston Globe and other outlets linking pot to the trooper’s death and was apparently working with BORIM and health officials to blame marijuana. “As of this point, [Nadolny’s] not going to be able to prescribe to anybody,” Baker told NECN at the time. In another interview, the governor told Fox 25, “I don’t know when DPH was aware of [Nadolny’s] role … I do know that DPH and the Board of Registration in Medicine trade a lot of data and information so that they can support the work that the [BORIM] does.”
About that work they’re doing… In this case, they’ve tarred the reputation and career of a family man who followed the law. Before this, Nadolny was an ER doc for 25-plus years with no such problems, but this ordeal has derailed his personal and professional lives. It hasn’t mattered that he didn’t personally write a recommendation for Njuguna or that the Canna Care nurse practitioner who did write it was acting legally.
Asked why the state has yet to restore Nadolny’s license, BORIM Executive Director George Zachos refused to comment on the matter. Instead he stated, “This matter is still open and it is the Board’s practice not to comment on open matters.” Zachos also declined to respond to questions about the operating practices and political appointment process for potential BORIM board members.
Fortunately, there is at least one whistleblower. Dr. Bharani Padmanabhan, MD, a BORIM adversary, offered some answers in a column for the Valley Patriot. “The Mass [BORIM is] a politically appointed board where board members need to be reappointed every 3 years,” Padmanabhan told me in an interview. “[BORIM Board Chair] Dr. [Candace] Sloane was last appointed by … Democrat Gov. Deval Patrick, so now she needs Charlie Baker [a Republican] to reappoint her. How does she get his attention and help him? He needed help in his losing campaign against the marijuana initiative.”
Indeed, Office of Campaign and Political Finance records show that in 2014, Sloane’s husband Barry contributed $500 apiece to Patrick and his Lt. Gov. Tim Murray. In that same cycle, Candace Sloane also made a $5,000 contribution to the Democratic State Committee. More recently, they have both maxed out to Baker, pitching into his campaign account plus those of the Republican State Committee and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, another anti-cannabis crusader who, in her case, has additionally feasted on gifts from the liquor lobby.
Padmanabhan agrees with the appeal ruling—that Nadolny should have never had his license suspended and that the ruling should serve to expose BORIM. The supporting doc even argues that there is a Supreme Court precedent which may allow Nadolny to sue the entire board.
At the same time, the persecuted doctor’s wife, Cheryl Benedetti Nadolny, is rallying the public and supporters behind her husband.
“They [BORIM] lost the case,” she said. “They lost, and they’re acting like they won. John is very humble and modest and he won’t tell you when we aren’t doing great, but the sad fact is that we don’t know how we are going to pay for our daughter’s school now. We are about to lose our health insurance, which isn’t great, because John has not been well lately.”
Cheryl Nadolny continues: “We have big medical bills now, and no income coming in. We can’t pay the medical bills for our daughter’s operation she had to have during the summer. We have lost our home. We can barely afford the apartment we are in and potentially could lose it. We have no more savings left, and have used up most of John’s retirement fund. On top of it all we have thousands of dollars in legal fees we have to pay to fight this whole thing … We have so much pressure on us right now, and every day is an anxiety-filled mess. When John even tried to apply to have a medical license in another state so he could at least get back to work, he immediately got denied because of the suspension. He even gets denied jobs anywhere else he applies because of him being in his 50s and when they do a background check on him all the newspaper articles pop up that say he’s a public danger.”
The governor declined to comment. So did spokespeople for BORIM.
CORRECTION: A former version of this column identified Dr. Bharani Padmanabhan as a former BORIM member. He is not.
Mike Crawford is a Massachusetts medical cannabis patient and founder of The Young Jurks and midnightmass.substack.com. You can listen to The Young Jurks on iTunes or wherever else podcasts are streamed. This article was produced with support from Midnight Mass and The Young Jurks, where your contributions are greatly appreciated and help us deliver more local coverage.