An Upper Lake physician who specializes in medical marijuana is breathing easier now that the medical board has decided to put him on probation — for the third time — rather than revoke his medical license.

"I feel very fortunate to basically still be practicing medicine without restrictions on my practice," Dr. Milan Hopkins said Monday.

He said he's a target because he has one of the largest medical marijuana practices in the state. "I stay busy all the time seeing medical marijuana patients."

The Medical Board of California revoked Hopkins' license but then stayed the revocation and instead levied five years of probation and a number of conditions with which he must comply. They include taking courses on record keeping, medical ethics and prescribing practices. The order takes effect April 11 and lasts five years, according to board documents.

The board began the action against Hopkins, 69, two years ago alleging he provided marijuana recommendations to patients without adequately reviewing their medical histories. The board also alleged he searched for reasons to prescribe marijuana, failed to obtain patients' medical records, failed to perform appropriate exams and ignored one patient's serious medical issues.

This is the third disciplinary action filed against Hopkins since 1979.

Hopkins noted it was triggered by a law enforcement investigation that included state drug enforcement agents posing as patients.

In his off time, he sings and plays guitar in the band, "The Freak Clinic."

Having a booming practice has allowed Hopkins to expand his office several times. Two years ago, he remodeled and moved into a larger, 19th century building on historic Upper Lake's main street.

"The practice is going very well," said Hopkins. He said the charge for a new medical marijuana patient visit is $250.

Hopkins also holds free clinics for low-income, uninsured patients on the second Sunday of each month.

Hopkins was first placed on probation in 1979 for 10 years. He was accused at that time of overprescribing controlled substances.

In 1998, he was placed on probation for five years for allegedly prescribing excessive amounts of controlled substances and of possessing 23 marijuana plants, psilocybin mushrooms and methamphetamine.

Hopkins became a licensed physician in 1972. He's been practicing medicine in Upper Lake since 1973.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com