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News / Clark County News

Vancouver naturopath facing unprofessional conduct charges

Medical pot permits issued in 'mill-like' fashion, state alleges

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter
Published: February 4, 2015, 4:00pm

A Vancouver naturopath has been charged with unprofessional conduct for allegedly failing to meet the standard of care in issuing multiple medical marijuana authorizations.

The state Department of Health’s Naturopathy Board issued the charges against naturopathic physician Corie R. Edwards on Dec. 9. Edwards responded to the charges and requested a hearing, which is scheduled for June.

The charges stem from allegations concerning Edwards’ conduct at Redwood Clinic in Vancouver, which she owns and operates; at South Sound Medicine in Lacey, where Edwards worked; and in her collaboration with New Beginnings Wellness Center.

The Naturopathy Board alleges Edwards’ evaluations did not meet the standard of care and the requirements for legitimate medical marijuana authorizations under state law. Edwards allegedly didn’t conduct adequate exams, develop standard relationships with patients, advise patients of other treatment options and keep adequate records. The charging documents include examples of unprofessional conduct in treating 10 unidentified patients.

“Respondent’s cursory and below-standard-of-care treatment of Patients A through J in these marijuana mill-like practices inappropriately compromised individualized treatment and compromised the image of the profession of naturopathic medicine,” the board concluded.

Edwards could not be reached for comment.

Edwards was employed at South Sound Medicine from October 2011 to September 2012.

In March 2014, the state issued an agreed order to cease and desist to Paul Wendler, owner of South Sound Medicine. Wendler’s operation and control over patient care at the clinic constituted “unlicensed practice” of medicine because he exerted control over patient care through his employment of Edwards, according to the charging documents. As such, Edwards allegedly “aided and abetted the unlicensed practice of medicine,” according to the documents.

After her employment at South Sound Medicine, Edwards continued to provide medical marijuana authorizations that didn’t meet state requirements at the Redwood Clinic, according to the documents.

In March 2013, Edwards started to collaborate with Sharol Chavez, an advanced registered nurse practitioner at New Beginnings Wellness Center, in order to provide medical marijuana authorization services.

The collaboration continued after Chavez’s license was suspended in October 2013. Edwards continued to treat patients using patient record forms from New Beginnings but claimed the patients belonged to the Redwood Clinic, according to the documents.

Edwards failed to meet the standard of care because her patient records were inaccurate and misleading, according to the documents.

Edwards was first issued a naturopathic physician license in Washington in September 2011. Her license expired Feb. 1.

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