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updated: 7/29/2014 6:55 AM

Highland Park doctor accused of faking pot paperwork

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Associated Press

Illinois regulators allege a suburban doctor misled a 79-year-old patient by issuing a bogus medical marijuana certification for a $250 fee, according to a formal complaint filed Monday.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation filed the complaint against Dr. Joseph J. Starkman, who has a practice in Highland Park. It's the first such complaint against a doctor since medical marijuana regulations were approved and the second since the state's law went into effect.

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Starkman told the patient he qualified for marijuana after learning he had a previous diagnosis of glaucoma, but Starkman didn't perform an eye exam, according to the complaint obtained by The Associated Press. The Illinois medical marijuana law requires a "bona fide physician-patient relationship."

The patient later received sham paperwork certificate bearing the state seal and purporting to certify the patient to use marijuana, the complaint states. Illinois hasn't yet created such official certification paperwork, although the genuine forms will be available next month. Until then, doctors aren't allowed to certify patients to use medical marijuana.

Starkman faces possible suspension or revocation of his license for multiple violations of the Medical Practice Act. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney. Starkman didn't immediately return phone messages seeking comment left by the AP at two office numbers. A call to a home telephone listing reached a message that said the mailbox was full.

"We will continue to aggressively prosecute people taking advantage of patients who may be eligible for medical cannabis," said IDFPR acting Secretary Manuel Flores in a statement.

Starkman was doing business as Integr8Illinois, which was affiliated with a Maine corporation with a similar name, according to the complaint. The Integr8Illinois website was still operating Monday afternoon and included a "Make an Appointment" button where a user could fill out a "Medical Marijuana Sign up Form."

An online publication for osteopathic physicians quoted and pictured Starkman in an October 2013 article about medical marijuana. The article noted that Starkman has experience certifying Maine patients for medical marijuana and quoted him saying he could help Illinois patients who don't have a qualifying diagnosis petition the state to expand the list of covered health conditions.

"I can write a letter for them and send over their records," Starkman said in the article in The DO, a publication of the American Osteopathic Association.

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