Six Days From Dispensary License Announcement, MA Patients Express Excitement

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is expected to announce recipients of medical marijuana dispensary licenses on January 30. About 100 applications were submitted to DPH at the end of November; between 14 and 35 licenses will be issued next week.

Medical marijuana patients are excited that dispensaries are one step closer to opening their doors. Peter Hayashi, a former clinical neuropsychologist and member of the Harvard Medical School Faculty until 2000, has been disabled by severe neuropathic (nerve) pain since 2001. Dr. Hayashi suffers from allodynia, a condition in which normal sensations cause pain. Currently available prescription medications are generally ineffective in this condition.

"I'm excited about this benchmark -- I'm one step closer to having safe access to my medicine. But this progress also means a lot for patients across the nation," said Dr. Hayashi. "The system here in Massachusetts is going to bring legitimacy to the issue because it includes controls like requiring doctors to take educational courses and independent laboratory testing of the medicine. Ultimately this will make the medical community more comfortable with the issue, which in turn will benefit patients."

"I've been impressed with the steps that DPH has taken to execute a transparent process and develop regulations that address concerns from an array of stakeholders," said Matthew J. Allen, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA). "Given the number of applicants and the thoughtful approach the agency has taken so far, I'm confident that the final pool of licensees will represent those best qualified to meet patient needs."

ASA has been working with MPAA on the implementation of Massachusetts program. MPAA helped bring the medical marijuana ballot initiative to the voters, and has since been working to ensure that patients have a voice in implementation.