NAC Excludes Diaz from April Agenda; Camp Says Doctor's Statement Proof of Legal Marijuana Use


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Nick Diaz will have to wait a bit longer to find resolution, as the UFC welterweight has not been placed on the Nevada Athletic Commission’s April 24 agenda. Sherdog.com confirmed Wednesday with Keith Kizer, executive director of the NAC, that the commission plans to hold Diaz’s hearing at a later date.

Diaz -- a medical marijuana patient diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in his home state of California -- had his UFC 143 drug test flagged for marijuana metabolites after suffering a unanimous decision defeat to Carlos Condit on Feb. 4 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Diaz was suspended by the commission on Feb. 22 pending a disciplinary hearing.

Diaz’s attorney, Ross C. Goodman of Goodman Law Group, wrote a letter last Friday to Nevada Deputy Attorney General Christopher Eccles, seeking confirmation that the NAC would address its complaint against Diaz during its April 24 meeting. Citing the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 233B.127), Goodman asserted that Diaz’s suspension should have been addressed within 45 days of its Feb. 22 approval by the commission, meaning the hearing should have taken place by April 6.

“In discussions with Mr. Kizer, following the Summary Suspension Order, Mr. Kizer informed me and others that this matter would be placed on the NAC’s agenda,” Goodman wrote. “Our client was and is confident that there is no basis for disciplinary action against him and therefore did not object to a delay beyond the required 45-day time limit as long as the matter was heard and determined in April.”

Eccles responded to that letter on Monday on behalf of Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, informing Goodman that the NAC was still awaiting the delivery of Diaz’s medical marijuana card.

“On several occasions, you told me and Mr. Kizer that Mr. Diaz had a medical marijuana card,” Eccles wrote. “You agreed to produce the card prior to the disciplinary hearing. I’ve waited for more than a month for the card. As a result, I issued a Request for Production for the card and other information regarding Diaz’s case. You have chosen not to provide the requested documents, including Mr. Diaz’s card. If Mr. Diaz does not have the card, simply confirm that in writing. As to the relevance of the of the documents I requested for production, it is the Commission that will ultimately decide what is relevant.”

Eccles went on to dispute Goodman’s claim that the NAC had not acted within the required 45-day time limit as outlined by the NRS, stating that Diaz did not receive a summary suspension, which is issued “when an agency suspends a license, prior to a hearing before a board or commission, due to emergency circumstances which pose a risk to public welfare.”

“No Notice of Summary Suspension was ever served on your client,” Eccles wrote. “In this matter, Mr. Diaz was properly served with a ‘Notice of Hearing on Temporary Suspension,’ and he failed to appear at that hearing. The Commission temporarily suspended Mr. Diaz at the hearing. Neither Mr. Diaz nor you objected in any manner to the temporary suspension.”

Citing the California Health and Safety Code (CHSC), Goodman addressed Eccles’ letter on Thursday morning, telling Sherdog.com that he has already supplied the commission with proper evidence of Diaz’s medical marijuana use in the form of signed statements from Diaz’s physician, Dr. Robert E. Sullivan. Additionally, Goodman has not backed down from his stance that Diaz’s fate should have been decided within 45 days of the temporary suspension’s approval. In an email to Sherdog.com, Goodman wrote:

“Mr. Diaz agreed to produce the required documentation to prove that he is lawfully entitled to use medical marijuana under the laws of California. In a letter dated April 11, 2012, Ross C. Goodman, Esq. responded to the [NAC’s] request for an Identification Card by providing two Physician’s Statements from Dr. Sullivan. As the [NAC] should know, the Physician’s Statements (not an identification card) constitute the “written documentation” required to qualify Mr. Diaz to legally engage in the medical use of marijuana (see CHSC 11362.5). In addition, Dr. Sullivan explained (Exhibit A attached to the Response of the First Amended Complaint) that after examining Mr. Diaz and reviewing medical records as required by California law, he rendered a ‘professional opinion’ evidencing that medical use of marijuana is appropriate to treat ADHD (see CHSC 11362.715(a)(2)).

“It appears that Mr. Kizer mistakenly believes that an identification card is a mandatory requirement. However, the California regulation clearly defines that an identification card is strictly voluntary (see CHSC 11362.7(f) and (g)). The option to obtain an identification card is to assist law enforcement officers in making a prompt identification of qualified patients to avoid unnecessary arrest. It is outrageous that Mr. Kizer would delay a full hearing after providing the best evidence under California law -- the Physician’s Statements -- the dispositive document that qualifies someone to legally use medical marijuana. As a protection against arbitrarily delaying proceedings -- as evidenced in the Diaz matter -- and thereby depriving licensees of the right to earn a living, the [NAC] is required to make a final determination based on the allegations of the complaint within 45 days after a temporary suspension.”

Diaz’s exclusion from the April 24 agenda comes after an extended back-and-forth between the involved parties dating back to the commission’s initial complaint filed against Diaz on Feb. 9. Goodman responded to that complaint on March 7, asserting that Diaz should not be subject to discipline as a legal, out-of-competition user of marijuana. Goodman alleged that the metabolites found were inactive and could not have possibly affected Diaz’s performance in the cage, as the fighter had stopped using marijuana eight days prior to the bout.

On March 28, the NAC amended its complaint, reiterating that Diaz broke the rules by testing positive for marijuana metabolites. The commission also brought forth Diaz’s responses on his medical questionnaire, alleging that he had provided false or misleading information by checking “no” when asked if he had consumed either prescribed or over-the-counter drugs within two weeks of his bout or if he suffered from any serious medical conditions.

Goodman sent another response to the NAC on April 11, stating that the welterweight responded to the questions in good faith, as marijuana is neither a prescription nor an over-the-counter drug in California. Additionally, Goodman alleged that ADHD would not be considered by most to be a “serious medical condition,” attaching a signed letter from Diaz’s physician that echoed the point.

A disciple of Cesar Gracie hailing from Stockton, Calif., Diaz made his return to the Octagon this past October, outpointing B.J. Penn in a bloody three-round contest at UFC 137. The former Strikeforce champion next appeared on Feb. 4, fighting Condit for the interim welterweight title at UFC 143. The rangy southpaw has finished 21 of his 34 career victims and has never been submitted in nearly 11 years as a professional.

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