Policy/Biz

Doctor Could Lose His License After Approving Medical Marijuana Certificate Before Form Became Available

Medical Cannabis
Doctor approves patient for medical marijuana use before the cannabis eligibility form was made available. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

An Illinois physician faces the possibility of losing his medical license after he issued a fake medical marijuana eligibility form before it was issued by the Department of Public Health. A formal complaint has been filed against Dr. Joseph Starkman for breaching the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act and the Medical Practice Act by unlawfully certifying a patient for the legal purchase of medical cannabis.

“The decision to use medical cannabis as part of a patient’s ongoing treatment still requires adherence to appropriate standards of care. Patients and physicians should be careful when a business holds itself out exclusively as a ‘medical cannabis clinic,” Manuel Flores, Acting Secretary for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), said in a statement. “We will continue to aggressively prosecute people taking advantage of patients who may be eligible for medical cannabis.”

According to the complaint filed with the IDFPR, back in 2013 Starkman charged a 79-year-old patient $250 to make an appointment with his privately operated medical cannabis clinic “Integr8 Illinois.” After the patient presented medical paperwork proving he had been previously diagnosed with glaucoma, Starkman reportedly conducted a 35-minute examination and granted him medical marijuana eligibility. It was later discovered that Starkman did not perform an eye exam with the patient.

Following the appointment, Starkman promised the patient would receive the official Illinois medical cannabis license in the mail. Although the patient received an official State of Illinois Physician certification document complete with the Seal of the State of Illinois and Illinois Department of Public Health contact information in January 2014, the certificate was not valid for medical marijuana eligibility or issued by the Department of Public Health.

The Illinois legislative committee first approved regulation for growing, dispensing, and registering patients for legal medical marijuana use under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act on July 15. Physicians are only permitted to issue a medical marijuana license once a “bona fide” physician-patient relationship has been established and the patient has started treatment for a debilitation medical condition. In spite of the law’s approval, licenses for growing or dispensing marijuana and physician certificate forms are not yet available. 

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