“I’m not going back,” D’Ambrosio says of orthopedic surgery, “I’m going to keep being an advocate. We still don’t have it legalized in this country.”
Physicians like D’Ambrosio have substantial reason to believe that cannabinoids may indeed be effective. Glaucoma patients experience decreased pressure on the optic nerve when they use it — which, according to D’Ambrosio, can perhaps prevent blindness. Cannabis is a bronchodilator, which means that it can relieve lung inflammation in asthmatics. It’s also a vasodilator, which means it can lower blood pressure.
The pool in the front yard of Dr. Francis D’Ambrosio’s Hollywood Hills house is shady and filled with inflatable loungers that drift in the breeze. An empty energy drink can and full tray of cigarette butts rest on the table near the entrance. Just inside, in a home office to the side of his dining room, D’Ambrosio sits at his wide, full desk. A few other desks are set up, where D’Ambrosio’s support staff is on the phone or intently typing. The pool is visible from this room, but D’Ambrosio does not seem tempted by it. Here he sits, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, writing cannabis prescriptions online for a website called 420recs.com.
Even if recreational marijuana is legalized in California this November, D’Ambrosio does not see his role as an advocate and health care provider diminishing. He explains that patients between the ages of 18 and 21 will not be eligible for recreational use, and will still need a prescription if they want to use cannabis for disorders like depression. Other medical patients may need a doctor’s prescription to justify possession of more than the proposed legally allotted amount of one ounce.
Until two and a half years ago, D’Ambrosio worked as an orthopedic surgeon — a career that he’d held since entering the medical field in 1986. “Even though [orthopedic surgery] was a very intense and lucrative job, nobody ever got better. You’d do these amazing operations on their backs, and they were still in miserable pain. It was very unsatisfying,” says D’Ambrosio, an affable man who is proud of his Italian heritage, and the fact that he’s a Yankees fan.
D’Ambrosio’s iPhone is constantly chiming. He checks his texts and emails frequently. He uses a light-hearted tone when speaking over the phone to patients, “Is the medicine working?” he asks one, “Well, then it’d be criminal of me not to renew your prescription.”
To this day, D’Ambrosio does not himself use cannabis. He’d love to use it to treat his bad hip, which keeps him on a daily regimen of Advil and Aleve, but it is against the law for doctors to prescribe medications like cannabis to themselves. He doesn’t have another doctor write him a prescription because “I’m so vocal. I’m such a big advocate. I’m a target. I want to take away at least that potential bullet.” In his off hours, D’Ambrosio also hosts a cannabis-centered broadcast called “Elevate the Conversation.”
In January 2014, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that banking restrictions would be loosened for cannabis businesses, D’Ambrosia says he thought: “’This is the moment to do this, because if they’re going to start loosening the banking, that means this is a viable medicine.’” He started becoming an advocate and seeing patients for the recommendation letters. “The most amazing thing happened — people were happy,” he says. “Everyone would leave the office happy. I wasn’t used to that.”
Like many cannabis enthusiasts, D’Ambrosio first took a liking to the plant in college, when he discovered that he preferred its effects to those of alcohol, and felt that it was healthier. Once he entered med school, though, D’Ambrosio had to stop using. Cannabis use was then, as it is now, frowned upon within the medical community.
The pool in the front yard of Dr. Francis D’Ambrosio’s Hollywood Hills house is shady and filled with inflatable loungers that drift in the breeze. An empty energy drink can and full tray of butts rest on the table near the entrance. Just inside, in a home office to the…
The Community Resources Finder (CRF) offers immediate access to comprehensive information about community services and matches the needs of the user to providers offering those specific services.
Heywood Healthcare is an independent, community-owned healthcare system dedicated to providing quality healthcare services to the residents of North Central Massachusetts. It is comprised of:
Tufts University-Medford, MA
479 Old Union Turnpike
Lancaster, MA 01453
This provider is accepting new patients.
Below are publications of interest to visitors of the Heywood Hospital website.
Buffalo General Hospital
Caritas Carney Hospital
Francis A. D’Ambrosio, Jr., MD Practice Information D’Ambrosio Eye Care 479 Old Union Turnpike Lancaster, MA 01453 Phone: 978-537-3900 Fax: 978-537-6030 Languages: