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Doctors: Feds warn against marijuana ties

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BOSTON (AP) — Some Massachusetts doctors with business interests in medical marijuana dispensaries say they have been told by federal drug agents to sever all ties to marijuana companies or relinquish federal licenses to prescribe certain medications.

The choice is necessary, they were told, because while Massachusetts like many states allows medical use of marijuana, federal law bans any use of marijuana.

At least three Massachusetts physicians have been contacted by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigators, The Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/1ozAyft ) reported Friday.

Dr. Samuel Mazza, chief executive of Debilitating Medical Conditions Treatment Centers, which won preliminary state approval to open a dispensary in Holyoke, said the DEA's visit came shortly after state regulators granted provisional licenses for 20 medical marijuana dispensaries. None has opened.

"Here are your options," Mazza said he was told. "You either give up your (DEA) license or give up your position on the board ... or you challenge it in court."

Mazza said he gave up the DEA license because he didn't need it anymore.

A DEA spokeswoman refused to answer questions about the doctors' assertions, including whether doctors in other states where medical marijuana is legal are being given the same ultimatum.

Physicians, dentists and other health care providers who prescribe or administer narcotics and other controlled substances are required to register with the DEA, which tracks use of the drugs and strips federal licenses of those who fraudulently prescribe them.

Dr. Walter Panis, chief medical officer for Alternative Therapies Group, which was granted preliminary approval by the state to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Salem, said he has not been contacted by the DEA but expressed concern.

He said he would consult a lawyer, but if forced to make a choice, would probably disassociate himself from the dispensary.

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Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com

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