The saga continues. Earlier in the week, a lawyer representing Nick Diaz issued a formal challenge to the marijuana suspension handed down to Diaz by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. A NSAC representative immediately responded, branding Diaz a "liar" based on his answers on a UFC 143 pre-fight questionnaire. The main bone of contention was the 11th question, which asked if Diaz had "taken/received any prescribed medication in the last 2 weeks". Diaz answered no. This contradicted the lawyer's challenge, which stated that Nick had stopped his marijuana consumption eight days before the fight. There's one major sticking point to this though:
Did Nick Diaz actually have a prescription for marijuana from a California physician?
The lawyer, Ross Goodman, responded to the NSAC accusation in a conversation with MMA Junkie late last night, and said that Nick's medical marijuana card doesn't constitute a prescription. This apparently means Nick didn't lie on the form. Here's what he said:
"The way that you become a medical marijuana patient is ... that you have a doctor," Goodman said. "A doctor doesn't prescribe to you marijuana. A doctor recommends that that would be an approved use for whatever diagnosis somebody has. In [Diaz's] case, [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder]. So nowhere is there an actual prescription for marijuana. It would be illegal for any doctor to prescribe marijuana."
Diaz submitted an affidavit (Exhibit A) with the original challenge that stated the following:
"I have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD"). My physician, Robert E. Sullivan, approved the use of marijuana to treat ADHD."
So, no one actually said that Nick was "prescribed" the marijuana by the doctor, right?. So far so good for that defense. Well, until you look a little closer and see the affidavit submitted in the original challenge by the doctor, John Hiatt, who is Goodman's medical expert in regards to the effects of marijuana. Point 11 of his statement says the following:
"If an individual has a valid medical prescription for marijuana in some form, then in view of all the uncertainties associated with interpreting the meaning of the presence of THC metabolite in urine, it is not reasonable to reach any conclusion in regard to a persons ability to compete in an athletic contest."
But he didn't have a valid prescription according to Goodman, so I guess that argument is out the window. In addition to that, Junkie points out another prescription reference made by Goodman in the challenge, and references Cesar Gracie's comments on the issue:
Yet in his challenge to the NSAC, Goodman cites a statute originally intended to address driving that defines a prohibited substance as any for which a person doesn't have a "valid prescription." And in previous interviews, Diaz's manager, Cesar Gracie, has said Diaz carries a prescription for medical pot.
So no one is on record saying that Nick specifically had a prescription (other than Cesar), but multiple statements in the challenge make reference to the need for one. Muddied waters. After the jump you can see how Nick's lawyer responded to this, and read what Keith Kizer had to say regarding Nick's test.
Goodman's response? NSAC isn't addressing the real issues, apparently:
"So what are we talking about? I don't think the Nevada State Athletic Commission knows how to address that issue now because we brought the actual rules to light. So now I think that they're first reaction was, 'Well, shoot, we do have some potential issues,' so what else can we say was wrong here? Oh, there was a pre-fight medical questionnaire that's asking for prescription medication? That was untruthful.'
"Maybe instead of attacking him and blaming him for something that's completely ridiculous, they should have a special category (on the questionnaire) that says, 'Are you a medical-marijuana patient?'"
In the article, Keith Kizer also confirms the actual ng/ml numbers from the first test:
The levels of all marijuana metabolties in Diaz's system were above an acceptable limit of 50 nanograms on his first test, according to NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer, and 10 nanograms above an acceptable limit of 15 nanograms of the carboxylic acid metabolite on the second test.
There're a lot more to it, and this is all very convoluted and complicated. I'd recommend reading the whole Junkie article to get the full picture. And if you'd like more information about California's rules regarding medical marijuana, here's what Prop 215 has to say on the issue. I think it's pretty obvious that we're going to be hearing about this a lot more over the next few months though.