Massachusetts Public Health Council Votes to Approve Regulations for Medical Marijuana

May 08, 2013

Boston, MA -- The Massachusetts Public Health Council voted today to approve final regulations issued by the Department of Public Health (DPH) for the implementation of the state's first medical marijuana program. Today's approved regulations are the work of weeks of deliberation, during which DPH sought input from medical marijuana patients and other stakeholders, which allowed the patient community to successfully voice its concerns.

Patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) in coalition with Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA) and the ACLU have been working with DPH to offer guidance and recommendations regarding the proposed regulations. “We applaud the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for continuing to work expeditiously to implement the state medical marijuana law,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “We are pleased that many of the issues patients expressed concern about were improved from the draft regulations.”

Today's approved final regulations establish the framework for the Massachusetts medical marijuana program, or Question 3, which was ushered in last November by 63 percent of the state's voters. The law allows qualifying patients with serious illnesses to get a recommendation from their licensed physician for the use of marijuana, and further enables patients to obtain their medicine from a registered Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC).

Overseen by DPH, the MMTCs will be licensed to cultivate, process, and sell medical marijuana to qualifying patients who are allowed to obtain up to 10 ounces in a 60 day period. Patients who qualify under a hardship provision will be able to cultivate for themselves if unable to access a MMTC due to distance, disability, or low income.

Many of the concerns from the draft regulations that could have limited patients’ access to medical marijuana have been addressed. For example, where the draft regulations would have prohibited patients from obtaining their medication from more than one MMTC, and placed unique and onerous restrictions on minors who might benefit from medical marijuana, the final regulations have sufficiently revised these restrictions to better meet patient needs.

Dr. Karen Munkacy, an anesthesiologist and delegate to the Massachusetts Medical Society, as well as a board member of ASA, agreed that the regulations adopted today are an improvement for patients over the draft regulations. Dr. Munkacy said that “The final regulations ease some of the obstacles that would have been created by the draft regulations for physicians who want to incorporate this medicine into their practice.”

The regulations that were approved today will go into effect on May 24th.

Further information:
Final Massachusetts Regulations: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/medical-marijuana.html

MA Dept. of Public Health page on Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/medical-marijuana.html

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