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Dea Targeting Doctors Linked To Medical Marijuana


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STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 5, 2014…. While the Obama administration has sent some signals to states that it won’t interfere with the implementation of medical marijuana laws, the Drug Enforcement Administration in recent weeks has visited doctors who hold administrative positions with companies seeking dispensary licenses in Massachusetts and told them to resign or risk losing their registration to prescribe controlled medications.



DEA officials have gone so far as to show up at the homes of doctors involved with prospective medical marijuana dispensaries, and at least two, but possibly more, physicians have already resigned their positions with medical marijuana organizations as a result, according to multiple sources.

"They’re going directly to the doctors, not setting up appointments, and giving them an ultimatum," said Valerio Romano, an attorney in Boston who represents several applicants for dispensary licenses in Massachusetts. Romano founded Massachusetts Marijuana Compliance, a part of the VGR Law Firm.

The full impact of the actions by the DEA on the fledgling medical marijuana industry in Massachusetts remains unclear, but those involved in the industry say they worry that it could not only delay the state Department of Public Health’s licensing process even further, but also spook those in the medical community, many of whom are already wary of their role in the implementation of the voter-approved law legalizing medical marijuana.

"The main problem that I see with all this is the rollout for the program is already five-plus months behind and if the applicants are amending their applications to remove directors or members of the executive management team, this will just force the DPH to relook at the plans the applicants have," Romano said.

Officials at the Department of Public Health said they have met with the DEA on drug diversion prevention issues related to registered marijuana dispensaries, but have not received any formal notification from the federal agency on warnings being given to doctors.

"Registered Marijuana Dispensaries are not required to have medical personnel on their management teams, and any doctor leaving the leadership team of an RMD would not cause any delays in the program or have an impact on applications beyond the additional time required to conduct background checks on replacement personnel," the DPH spokesman David Kibbe said in a statement. "When Registered Marijuana Dispensaries experience changes in leadership, they are required to notify DPH. Any new RMD personnel must go through a comprehensive background check as part of the Department’s standard process."

Paul Covell, the chief executive officer of the William Noyes Webster Foundation, said Dr. Carl Fulwiler, a Worcester psychiatrist and addiction specialist who was listed on the group’s dispensary license application as its substance abuse specialist, resigned after he was visited by the DEA last week.

"They told him you have to give up one or the other," Covell told the News Service.



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