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2 state naturopaths charged for clearing pot use

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By Gene Johnson
Associated Press
SEATTLE -- Washington state regulators have issued charges against two naturopathic doctors accused of rubber-stamping medical marijuana authorizations, after a Seattle Times reporter wrote a front-page feature about how easy it was to obtain permission from them.
The Department of Health filed the complaints Tuesday against Drs. Carolyn Lee Bearss and Dimitrios Jimmy Magiasis, saying they provided substandard care when they each treated more than 100 patients over three days during last year's Hempfest marijuana legalization event in Seattle.
It's the first time doctors in the state have faced such charges, Health Department spokesman Tim Church said. Last month, a Tacoma osteopath was charged with advertising that he writes marijuana authorizations.
“We license health care providers, and we expect them to meet certain standards of care,” Church said. “We expect they'll do a thorough exam with somebody, check their records, do an X-ray if necessary, before they decide what's best for that patient.”
The charges say the doctors did little to review patient histories, document the 15-minute exams or their diagnoses, and that they failed to establish an ongoing patient-doctor relationship as required by the state's medical marijuana law. In some cases, the charges say, patients were approved to use pot even though their conditions did not meet the law's definitions of terminal or intractable pain.
In some cases, the charges say, the naturopaths authorized patients to use marijuana to treat bad headaches, without doing anything to determine whether the headaches might have been caused by a serious condition such as a tumor.
Bearss did not immediately return a call seeking comment, and Magiasis, through a receptionist, declined to speak with The Associated Press.
At Hempfest, the doctors worked in a tent sponsored by 4Evergreen Group LLC, a medical marijuana services company. Patients paid $150 for exams if they had medical records with them, and $200 if they didn't. Some waited in line for hours.
Bearss examined 106 patients and Magiasis examined 110, the charges say. Each authorized all but one patient to use marijuana.
One of the patients Bearss authorized was Seattle Times reporter Jonathan Martin, who complained of intermittent back pain. Martin wrote a front-page feature about his experience titled “No medical records? No problem. Got my pot card at Hempfest.”
Church said the story prompted the Department of Health to start investigating the pair. He noted that none of the patients treated at Hempfest complained about the quality of care.
“You can guess why that might be,” he said.
The charges can result in a broad range of disciplinary measures, from continuing education or a fine to a license suspension or revocation. The charged doctors have 20 days to respond.
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