Written by Tess Barker for LA Weekly.
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.
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.
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.”