Although the treatment of various types of cancer has been pushed forward by both alternative and traditional therapies, there are still those who seek to take advantage of desperate patients looking for a cure. One such treatment, as some of you may be aware, was the “Hoxsey Method” (banned in the U.S. in 1960), which involved using laxatives, vitamins, and a paste that was caustic to the skin. Now, a 69-year-old El Cerrito man stands accused of having ‘prescribed’ a 49-year-old female cancer patient numerous different self-created elixirs, powders, and what seems to have been nothing but a bag of dirt for about $2,000. He has been arrested on suspicion of practicing medicine without a license, elder abuse, and dispensing drugs without a license.
California law takes quite a serious view on the unlawful practice of medicine (CA Business and Professions Code 2052). An individual is in violation of this law if they behave in such a way as to pretend that they are licensed to practice medicine. This includes actually practicing medicine, diagnosing, prescribing medications, performing surgeries, and even advertising oneself as a medical doctor when that person does not have a valid license.
In California, unlawfully practicing medicine is actually neither strictly a misdemeanor offense, nor a felony, it is a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that the prosecutors involved in the case are left to determine how serious the offense actually is. If convicted of misdemeanor unlawfully practicing medicine, a person could face up to 1 year in county jail and be subject to approximately $1,000 in fines. However, if an individual is convicted of a felony count of the same, they may expect to spend up to 3 years in jail and pay $10,000 in fines.
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