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Nick DeLuca, BostInno
When it comes to medical marijuana in Massachusetts, the Bay State is generally viewed as favorable. The state voted to allow weed of the medicinal variety per ballot initiative in 2012, however, patients are still waiting to stock up on their prescriptions. But what are our representatives in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives doing about it?
The Department of Public Health has since issued 20 medical marijuana licenses for dispensaries throughout the commonwealth. The process, though, has come under fire for allegedly being convoluted, biased and unfair with respect to certain operators. Certainly some influence and aid from our friends down in D.C. could help expedite the process.
BostInno reached out to the DPH for more information on the matter, who responded with the following statement:
DPH’s focus is on striking the appropriate balance between ensuring patient access and public safety. To that end we are engaged in a process of fully verifying all information and operational plans submitted by dispensary applicants. That process takes time.
A new online database from Americans For Safe Access, a staunch medical marijuana research and usage advocate group, tracks how each and every member of Congress, all 545 of them, have voted on medical marijuana legislation since 2012.
Before we get into how the Massachusetts Congressional delegation fares in terms of willingness to incorporate medical marijuana, let's go over the grading process.
ASA has scored each Congressperson based on the following criteria:
House of Representatives Grades:
- A = Members who has at least 4 of the following: AYE votes on medical marijuana floor votes and/or (co)-sponsored medical marijuana bills
- B = Members who have 3 of the following: AYE votes on medical marijuana floor votes and/or (co)-sponsored medical marijuana bills
- C = Members who have 2 of the following: AYE votes on medical marijuana floor votes and/or (co)-sponsored medical marijuana bills
- D = Members who have 1 of the following: AYE votes on medical marijuana floor votes and/or (co)-sponsored medical marijuana bills
- F = Members who have never voted AYE or (co)sponsored Congressional medical marijuana legislation
- Members with either an A or B grade are consider ASA Patient Champions
- Pass: Senator who served in the House in 2012 and voted AYE on the 2012 CJS Amendment
- Fail: Senator who served in the House in 2012 and voted AYE on the 2012 CJS Amendment
- No Grade: Senator who was not in the House in 2012
Because Senator Ed Markey didn't take to the upper chamber until 2013, he doesn't make the grade. But Senator Elizabeth Warren and potential 2016 presidential dark horse, received "Patient Champion."
As for the House, things could be a lot better. Only two of Massachusetts' nine House members reached "Patient Champion" status. Jim McGovern of the 2nd District received an 'A' while Mike Capuano of the 8th District received a 'B.' EVERYONE else received a 'C' lower. Get your sh*t together, delegates.
John Tierney (6th District), Niki Tsongas (3rd District) and Richard Neal (1st District) all received grades of 'C.' Newly-anointed Congresswoman Katherine Clark (5th District) and Stephen Lynch (8th District) pulled down a 'D' each. Bill Keating (10th District) and Joe Kennedy (4th District_ bring up the rear with and 'F' apiece.
To see how each member of Congress from Massachusetts voted on medical marijuana measures, check out their voter history page here. To help take up the cause, you can reach out to your local representative via email here.