Agents with the US Drug Enforcement Administration have paid visits to at least three physicians tied to the Massachusetts medical marijuana industry, threatening them that if they don’t sever ties, they’ll lose their license to prescribe certain medications. The blackmail, as it’s being called by RT.com, seems to be an effort by the agency to circumvent the Obama Administration’s second-term efforts to lighten up on state-run medical marijuana programs.
“Here are your options,” DEA agents told Dr. Samuel Mazza. “You either give up your [DEA] license or give up your position on the board . . . or you challenge it in court.”
Mazza is on the board of a medical marijuana dispensary and runs the Debilitating Medical Conditions Treatment Centers. His was one of the first of 20 dispensaries to receive Mass. state approval for running a medical marijuana business.
His choice of the three offered? He relinquished the license. His part-time work at the Veterans Affairs hospital didn’t require he use it, and he wanted to stay involved with the medical marijuana programs.
“The gist was to get me to either relinquish the DEA license, if I insisted on continuing with the dispensary, or give the license up ‘temporarily’ while involved with the dispensary,” said another doctor who wished to remain anonymous, about his own dealings with federal agents.
His choice? Leaving his position at the dispensary.
For their part, the DEA isn’t talking. The local bureau referred questions to headquarters and a spokeswoman in Washington declined to comment. She would also not confirm whether the action in Massachusetts was part of a nationwide effort or specific to that state.
At least two doctors have resigned their positions with dispensaries in the past few weeks.
“DEA agents can be quite direct when they want to make an impression on you,” said one of them.
Valerio Romano, the man behind Massachusetts Marijuana Compliance, represents two physicians that have been approached. He says the DEA visits in Mass. are especially strange considering the Massachusetts medical marijuana framework is pretty strong.
“Massachusetts has this really highly regulated framework, where there’s a lot of effort put into making sure medicine is really only for patients, and I have not heard of this in any other state with such a framework,” Romano told The Huffington Post.
It seems the agency is doing what they can to fight the implementation of marijuana programs, while not directly violating guidelines passed down from the Administration and the DOJ.
“Certainly the administration, the executive office, seems to indicate that they want to leave [state marijuana regulations] alone. One would presume that the DEA would take their cue from the rest of the executive office, but I guess in their case they’re not,” said Romano. “This is another way they can go after the dispensaries without actually violating the letter and what they’ve been instructed.”