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Illinois professional license defense lawyerIn January 2020, the recreational use of marijuana became legal in the state of Illinois. Under the law, anyone over the age of 21 is allowed to cumulatively possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, five grams of concentrate, and cannabis-infused products containing up to 500 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

But medical professionals are often held to a different standard when it comes to marijuana, even if it is legal. There may not be criminal consequences for using cannabis products, but you could be putting your medical license in jeopardy under certain circumstances.

Using Marijuana Products

If you are a doctor, nurse, or other medical license professional, you may be legally allowed to use marijuana products in Illinois under the following circumstances:

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Illinois professional license defenseOur professional license defense law firm has written extensively about the serious consequences physicians face if they are accused of medical insurance fraud, including loss of medical license even criminal charges. However, dentists can also be accused with insurance fraud and face the same type of consequences. If you have been accused of dental insurance fraud, contact an Illinois professional license defense attorney right away.

Dental Insurance Fraud

Dental fraud is any intentional misrepresentation or deception of treatment needed in order to obtain unauthorized benefits. According to the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, more than $12 billion is lost to dental fraud every year.

One method of fraud that is becoming more common is the alterations of digital X-rays using software programs to create images that show bogus tooth decay, missing tooth structure, lesions, fractures, and more.

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illinois professional license defense lawyerThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued the latest edition of the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program (HCFAC) Annual Report. The report details the collection of just under $1.9 billion in healthcare fraud settlements and judgments in fiscal year 2021. Funds were returned to the Medicare Trust Funds and also to other federal agencies. Per the HCFAC, the federal government was able to recoup more than $5 billion in healthcare fraud.

Healthcare Fraud Charges

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated more than 800 new criminal healthcare fraud investigations last year. Of those investigations, federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against 741 defendants. More than 300 of those defendants have already been convicted of healthcare fraud-related offenses.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to an increase in the number of healthcare fraud cases that involved unnecessary lab testing, unnecessary services, and fraudulently obtaining pandemic healthcare relief funds.

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illinois professional license defense lawyerOne of the most serious charges that a physician can be accused of is violating the Controlled Substances Act. Under the Act, doctors are authorized to dispense controlled substances covered under the law by prescription to patients but only under if that medication is provided for a “legitimate medical purpose.” Violations of this law can result not only in a doctor losing their medical license but they could also face a prison sentence if found guilty.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions of two doctors who were convicted in two different cases of unlawful drug distribution. In a unanimous decision, the justices sent both cases back to the lower courts in each case’s respective state.

Accusations of Unauthorized Prescriptions

In the first case, a doctor who ran a clinic in Alabama was accused of issuing almost 300,000 prescriptions for controlled substances in a four-year period. Prosecutors said the clinic was the country’s leading source of fentanyl drug prescriptions.

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oak brook medial license defense lawyerOur law firm has written a number of blog posts regarding the consequences that can occur with a physician’s medical license should they find themselves facing criminal charges. This is why any type of criminal accusation – even if it is a first offense – should trigger a phone call to a skilled Illinois medical license defense attorney since there is little doubt that the criminal charges will lead to some kind of action by the Illinois Medical Board.

Self-Reporting

Although your first instinct may be to try to keep the news of your arrest as quiet as possible, Illinois physicians have a responsibility to self-report certain types of arrests and/or convictions to the medical board. Medical facilities also have an obligation to report any information they learn about a physician affiliated with their organization who is facing certain charges or has been convicted. So, if the doctor fails to self-report, there is a high risk the hospital or medical facility they work for could, compounding an already potential dire situation with the medical board.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

The majority of criminal convictions that could lead to a loss of medical license involve felony convictions. However, there are certain misdemeanor crimes that can also have the same result. These are referred to as “crimes of moral turpitude.”

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