Las Vegas doctor charged with illegally distributing prescription drugs

A Las Vegas doctor who advocates medical marijuana therapy has been charged with illegally distributing prescription drugs.

Federal agents arrested James Tinnell, 73, on Tuesday. He appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leavitt and was released on his own recognizance.

Tinnell said in 2005 that he had recommended medical marijuana to nearly 200 patients, including activist Pierre Werner, who faces charges in a separate federal case.

Werner was one of 14 people arrested in January in connection with marijuana sales at Las Vegas dispensaries.

On May 18, a federal grand jury charged Tinnell with 12 counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances. The indictment was unsealed on Wednesday.

According to the indictment, Tinnell prescribed large quantities of highly addictive drugs, including the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone, "without medical necessity."

"Tinnell sold prescriptions to customers that had neither been issued for a legitimate medical purpose nor in the usual course of his professional practice," the document alleges.

The crimes occurred between June 10 and April 26, according to the indictment.

In court Wednesday, Tinnell pleaded not guilty to all counts. His trial has been scheduled for July 11.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Crane Pomerantz said evidence in the case includes audio and visual recordings.

According to the indictment, Tinnell maintained a medical practice at 2900 E. Desert Inn Road, Suite 108, in Las Vegas and "represented himself to be a specialist in pain management and an advocate of medical marijuana therapy."

Tinnell said he received his medical degree in 1962 from the University of Arkansas.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at or 702-384-8710.