Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’
Advocates find draft regulations generally acceptable; Concerns remain over some patients’ access to medical marijuana
By Scott Gacek
WAKEFIELD, MA — One of the first communities in Massachusetts to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, doing so less than ten days after Bay State voters overwhelmingly approved the medical use of marijuana in November, is launching an appeal against a recent ruling by the state’s Attorney General’s that such a ban is illegal.
At a November 15 Town Meeting, members voted to adopt a zoning bylaw that prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries from opening anywhere in the town, citing safety concerns about the possibility of a dispensary opening there.
Earlier this month, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley struck down Wakefield’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, stating that such a ban would “would frustrate the purpose” of the ballot initiative passed by 63% of voters, making reasonable access to medical marijuana impossible.
According to the Attorney General, the voter-approved law is intended “to allow qualifying patients who have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition reasonable access to medical marijuana treatment centers.”
In her ruling, Coakley found that towns would be able to adopt zoning by-laws to regulate dispensaries and to enact temporary moratoriums on the development of the centers, but they would not be able to ban them outright.
“The Act’s legislative purpose could not be served if a municipality could prohibit treatment centers within its borders, for if one municipality could do so, presumably all could do so,” the Attorney General wrote in her decision to overturn Wakefield’s ban.
Now, however, the town of Wakefield is appealing Coakley’s decision. The Board of Selectmen voted 6-0 Monday file an appeal in court to challenge Coakley’s ruling.
Meanwhile, the Board of Selectmen intends to ask the May 6 annual Town Meeting to enact a one-year moratorium on dispensaries in town.
The challenge is expected to be filed either in Superior Court or in the Supreme Judicial Court.
Wakefield Town Administrator Stephen Maio says that the town will argue that the bylaw should be allowed to stand based on “great deference” given to local bylaws by state law.
A similar ban was adopted by the town of Reading, but that ban was also overturned by the Attorney General’s office. A third ban was approved in Melrose, but as Melrose is considered a city, bylaws do not need to be approved by the Attorney General’s office.
Ruth Clay is a shared public health director for all three communities — Melrose, Reading, and Wakefield — worked with the town officials to develop the bans.
“We were disappointed,” Ruth Clay said of the Attorney General’s ruling overturning her bans. ”We made a point and we still believe that the majority of the people who voted for were voting for the principles of compassionate care, but not for situations where unauthorized people could be getting marijuana.”
Under the text of Question 3, which became law on January 1, 2013, up to 35 dispensaries can open state-wide. The law requires at least one, but not more than 5, dispensaries to open in each of Massachusetts’ 14 counties.
A similar ban was passed in the city of Lynn, but was vetoed by the Mayor, based on the ordinance’s “suspected unconstitutionality.”
The state Department of Public Health is expected to release a draft of the rules and regulations for the state-supervised medical marijuana program, including the guidelines for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries, on Friday, March 29.
Following release of the draft regulations, the DPH will hold public hearings on April 19, and vote on the final rules May 8.
If approved, those rules will go into effect May 24.
The DPH then has until January 2014 to approve the applications and issue registrations to the dispensaries, and then another 90 days to licence and approve the dispensaries to open, making it likely that the first dispensaries in Massachusetts will not be open spring 2014.
Until the dispensaries are open, the law allows qualifying patients to grow a limited amount of medical marijuana to ensure they have safe access to their medication. This right to grow expires once the dispensaries open, except for patients with permission from the state based on financial hardship or physical incapacity to travel to a nearby dispensary.
Boston, MA: The use of cannabis among patients with established coronary disease is not associated with increased mortality risk, according to trial data published online in the American Heart Journal.
Investigators at the Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, conducted a prospective study assessing the survival rates of 3,886 heart attack survivors over an 18-year period.
Authors reported that 519 subjects died during this period, including 22 of the 109 reporting marijuana use in the year before their heart attack. However, investigators concluded, “There was no statistically significant association between marijuana use and mortality.”
Previous research has speculated that cannabis consumption may increase subjects’ risk of heart attack or stroke because cannabinoids may temporarily increase blood pressure, particularly in more naïve users, and because the chronic use of the substance has been linked to the increased production of a specific protein associated with cardiovascular risks.
The study’s findings contradicted those of a previous report by the same research team, which was based on the results of a smaller cohort.
“In this prospective multicenter cohort study of MI (myocardial infarction) survivors followed prospectively for up to 18 years, there was no conclusive evidence of an association between smoking marijuana and mortality,” authors concluded. They caution, however: Larger studies with repeated measures of marijuana use are needed to definitively establish whether there are adverse cardiovascular consequences of smoking marijuana among patients with coronary heart disease. Given the prior evidence, … it seems prudent to caution patients with coronary heart disease and those at high risk for cardiovascular disease to abstain from smoking marijuana.”
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Full text of the study, “Marijuana use and long-term mortality among survivors of acute myocardial infarction,” is available from the American Heart Journal.
After the marijuana-policy-reform movement’s huge victories in Colorado and Washington on November 6, many people are asking, “What states will be next to enact measures to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol?” (We refer to these as “T&R” bills or initiatives.)
It is important to note that this pair of 55 percent victories would have been less resounding had they appeared on the ballot during a midterm election. Presidential elections traditionally attract far more voters, many of whom are younger and more supportive of T&R than older voters. And when there are more voters, there tends to be more support shown for ending marijuana prohibition.
With that in mind, here is what the Marijuana Policy Project will be pursuing from 2013 to 2016.
1. Alaska: Unfortunately, Alaska law currently only allows voter initiatives to be placed on the primary election ballot, so we will attempt to pass a T&R initiative in August 2014. Fortunately, Alaska voters have traditionally been more supportive of T&R than voters in any other state. Only 100,000 Alaskans are expected to vote in August 2014, so the universe of voters we need to persuade is quite small.
2. Rhode Island: MPP separately legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized marijuana possession in Rhode Island in 2009 and 2012, respectively. We’re now lobbying the state legislature to pass a T&R bill, which could very well happen in 2014 or 2015. Regardless of which year this happens, Rhode Island will almost certainly be the first state to pass a T&R measure through the state legislature.
3. Maine: I just returned to D.C. from Maine, where I met with leading activists, political consultants, and state Rep. Diane Russell (D), who’s the lead sponsor of the T&R bill in Augusta. If we fail to pass her bill during the 2013, 2014, or 2015 legislative sessions, we’ll place a T&R initiative on the November 2016 ballot. As a way of demonstrating public support before 2016, we intend to pass local ballot initiatives in Portland and two or three other cities in November 2014.
4. Oregon: Oregon is similar to Maine, in that we’re working with leading activists to pass a T&R bill through the state legislature during the 2013 or 2015 legislative sessions. If the measure falls short, we will place a T&R initiative on the November 2016 ballot. MPP already hired a consultant in Portland to coordinate this four-year plan.
5. California: There is already a consensus that our movement should work over the next four years toward the goal of passing a T&R initiative in California in November 2016. The ACLU is coordinating the public-education effort over the next three years, and then MPP and the Drug Policy Alliance will probably end up leading the ballot-initiative campaign.
6. Massachusetts: The voters of Massachusetts passed MPP’s decriminalization initiative in November 2008 with 65 percent of the vote, and then they followed up by legalizing medical marijuana on November 6 with 63 percent of the vote. Many Massachusetts citizens and legislators assume that marijuana will eventually be legalized in Massachusetts; it’s just a question of when. The answer is “November 2016.”
7. Nevada: MPP failed to pass a pair of ballot initiatives in Nevada in November 2002 and November 2006 with 39 percent and 44 percent of the vote, respectively. Support nationwide has been increasing by about 1.5 percent per year, so we could probably pass a T&R initiative tomorrow if we were permitted to place it on the ballot today. Because that’s not possible, we’re planning to pass an initiative in November 2016.
The themes here are pretty clear.
First, the next states to end marijuana prohibition will be in New England and the West. Second, everything is trending in our direction, and most people now agree that marijuana will eventually be legalized nationwide.
Third, the biggest day in the history of the marijuana-policy-reform movement will be November 8, 2016. After that day, just 46 months from now, it will be almost inevitable that Congress will change federal law to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without federal interference. When that happens, we win.
- Rob Kampia
By Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer
Source: Associated Press
Boston — Massachusetts voters may have enthusiastically approved the legalization of medical marijuana, but that hasn’t stopped communities around the state from rushing to amend their zoning regulations to make sure marijuana dispensaries are banned or restricted in their towns.
Although the law allowing the use of marijuana for patients with serious medical conditions goes into effect Jan. 1, the state Department of Public Health has until May 1 to issue regulations on who will run the dispensaries, who will work there and how they will be operated. DPH must also decide what constitutes a 60-day supply patients can receive.
While the DPH works on the regulations, some cities and towns are working to keep out dispensaries, or “pot shops” as they are often called. In Wakefield and Reading, the towns have already approved zoning changes to ban dispensaries.
“People are concerned about how broad the law was written and that the dispensaries could be used by more than just people with medical issues,” said Ruth Clay, the health director for Wakefield, Reading and Melrose, a city that is also working to pass a ban on dispensaries.
Clay said her communities receive a significant amount of state and federal grants to run substance abuse programs and are concerned that having a marijuana dispensary in town could “send a mixed message to youths.”
The law approved through Question 3 on the November election ballot eliminates civil and criminal penalties for the use of marijuana by people with cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, AIDS and other conditions determined by a doctor.
Opponents have said they are concerned that the DPH will not be able to prevent abuses of the new law. The department has faced criticism this year for a lack of oversight at a drug-testing lab that was closed in August after a chemist allegedly acknowledged skirting lab protocols and faking test results.
The state’s pharmacy board, under the auspices of DPH, has also come under scrutiny in a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a steroid distributed by a compounding pharmacy in Framingham.
The DPH says it is committed to developing a thorough set of guidelines so that the state will not end up with problems seen in other states, including California and Colorado, where hundreds of dispensaries have opened and prompted complaints about misuse of medical marijuana and increased crime.
“We have the benefit that we are not the first state doing this, there are 17 other states that have done this, including some neighbors — Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine — so we don’t have to do this completely in the dark,” said Dr. Lauren Smith, interim DPH commissioner.
“We can look at what has worked well and what hasn’t worked well in other states and then determine what will work best here in Massachusetts.”
The new law limits the number of dispensaries to no more than 35 in the first year, but says the DPH could allow more after 2013.
The state’s legalization of medical marijuana has spawned an influx of consultants, attorneys and medical technology companies into Massachusetts.
Dr. Bruce Bedrick, the chief executive of MedBox Inc., opened an office in Natick soon after the ballot question was approved. His company offers consulting services and dispensing systems to people interested in opening dispensaries in Massachusetts.
The company’s technology requires patients to do a fingerprint scan in order to get their doctor-prescribed quantity of marijuana. The software also allows a dispensary to track when the patient’s prescription expires. Bedrick said MedBox now has more than 100 dispensing systems — which look similar to vending machines — in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Canada. Only dispensary employees have access to the boxes, which are located in a locked room in the dispensaries.
Bedrick said he has received a great deal of interest since he set up an office in Massachusetts.
“I would expect hundreds of people to apply for the (dispensary) license ultimately,” Bedrick said. “It’s a brand-new industry. It offers a tremendous amount of opportunity. I think this is only going to be positive for the economy of Massachusetts … and certainly most importantly for the people who need the medicine.”
Others are wary of the new industry.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association is calling for a six-month delay in implementing the law. Executive Director Geoffrey Beckwith said cities and town need more time to review their local bylaws to decide if they want to pass restrictions. Beckwith said some communities may not want to ban them outright, but may decide to allow them to be located only near hospitals or away from schools.
“There are serious issues communities need to consider,” Beckwith said.
BOSTON — In just over two weeks it will be legal in Massachusetts for people with certain medical conditions to use marijuana. But is the state ready?
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which will oversee the growth and distribution of medical marijuana, has until the end of April to write regulations. But the new law has some businesses jumping at the opportunity while local officials are seeking to slow down the process.
CannaMed, a California based for-profit medical marijuana evaluation center run by doctors with ties to Boston, has already rented space in Framingham.
“We’ve looked at a number of locations in the Boston area. That’s where we ended up. No particular reason,” said CannaMed regional manager Richard Tav.
CannaMed plans to open its fifth location in Massachusetts in January.
“We are hoping that we’ll be welcomed and we’ll be able to offer an alternative option to a patient in need,” Tav said.
The clinic owners believe they won’t need to wait for regulations from the state because they will not be dispensing marijuana. Clinic doctors will be evaluating patients’ medical records and deciding whether to recommend them for a medical marijuana card. That card will have to be approved and issued by the state, similar to a driver’s license. Any doctor can write a recommendation to use marijuana, but many choose not to.
“What we’re seeing are primary physicians that are referring patients to us because that’s what CannaMed is, a specialty in this industry,” Tav said.
CannaMed is one of what will be many businesses opening in response to the new law.
“It worries me enormously,” said state Sen. John Keenan of Quincy, the chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
“It will be during the first 120 days after its effective date there’ll be a situation where anything will go,” Keenan said. “All that somebody needs to be able to possess marijuana is a medical certification which can be obtained from a physician not necessarily from Massachusetts.”
Sen. Keenan is writing a bill to delay the law. The measure approved by voters in November allows as many as 35 dispensaries to open next year, with a maximum of five per county. The public health department will regulate how the dispensaries operate, but won’t control where the centers go. That’s left local officials scrambling and asking for more time.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association, a group of more than 200 cities and towns headed by Geoff Beckwith, has asked for a six-month delay in the law.
“Some communities may wish to say they prefer not to have and don’t want to have dispensaries in their community,” Beckwith said. “Others might want to have them located in an area near medical facilities.”
Many towns won’t have the chance to approve dispensaries because most town meetings aren’t held until the spring.
“Here we have something that was overwhelming passed by the voters and we can’t get any information whatsoever from Department of Public Health where they stand on even the progress of their regulations at this point,” said Michael Hugo, chair of the Framingham Board of Health.
Many state and local officials say the new law is vague. Sen. Keenan says his bill would create a clear system where a person would obtain marijuana in the same way a patient gets prescription medicine.
“Where the physician would authorize use on a secure prescription pad and perhaps do that through courier and mail so that we don’t have dispensaries in the communities and we don’t have cultivation occurring in the communities,” Keenan said.
At least two towns have voted already to ban dispensaries — Wakefield and Reading. Other communities are considering similar moves. But lawmakers say it’s unclear if the medical marijuana law gives cities and towns the authority to say no.
Space is limited.
Reserve your seat now at: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/993153255
As a Medical Marijuana professional, you are cordially invited to attend an informative one-hour Webinar regarding Massachusetts’ Legalization of Medical Marijuana. Our guest speakers for this timely event will be Shaleen Title, Massachusetts attorney for Vicente Sederberg, LLC, the only national medical marijuana law firm and Scott Hawkins, senior project consultant for Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, Inc.
Title: Massachusetts MMJ Legalization Webinar
Date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Time: 11 AM – 12PM MST
BOSTON — Legalized medical marijuana is coming to Massachusetts next year, and along with it is coming a wide variety of business opportunities — including legal work.
A law firm in Colorado, where medical marijuana is already legal, has opened an office in Medford in hopes of representing clients in the medical marijuana industry in this state.
To get a sense of the type of work it expects to do, WBUR’s All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer spoke with Brian Vicente, a founding partner of the Denver law firm Vicente Sederberg, and asked him to describe his legal niche.
Brian Vicente: We think there’s a really great opportunity to help spread the safe access model where patients can access medical marijuana from storefronts instead of street corners or alleys, and we’d like to see that work in Massachusetts.
Sacha Pfeiffer: Is medical marijuana something that has become a legal specialty? I mean, I’ve never heard of a medical marijuana specialty at law school, for example.
It’s an emerging area of law. There are 18 states, including Massachusetts, that have passed medical marijuana laws, and I think it’s safe to say we’re going to see more states coming on board in the future. So our law firm currently is sort of one-of-a-kind. We employ about six attorneys that work full-time on medical marijuana compliance law and issues related to that. But I think it’s really a new and emerging and exciting field to practice in.
What would be an example of one of your clients?
Some of those could just be someone who wants to become a medical marijuana patient, wants to know the rules related to that so they don’t step out of line. But often we’ll see people that are interested in starting a business, and that would be to serve patients. We see people that come out of traditional businesses — restaurateurs or folks that work in retail, etcetera — that want to open a medical marijuana store. There’s a large number of regulations that they need to follow, both at the state and local level. And we help them find a facility that complies with those rules, and we focus very intensely on the actual state medical marijuana laws and how to follow those to a T. And then, of course, there’s federal law, which people need to be aware of. Medical marijuana is still illegal federally, even though it’s legal in 18 states.
So anyone that’s thinking about becoming a patient or opening a business really needs to know what are the possible ramifications of this and how can I follow these laws as closely as possible.
In fact, I believe you’re holding a seminar [Thursday night] in Cambridge. What are some of the issues you’ll be covering at that?
It’ll really be a best practices seminar in terms of what we’ve seen has worked in Colorado, both for business owners and for patients. Medical marijuana patients often face some degree of stigma, sometimes from law enforcement or community members. So we try to teach them methods to minimize negative interactions. And then we’ll be touching on some of the kind of business basics that folks need to understand before they throw their hat in the ring.
You’ve referred to these medical marijuana dispensaries as stores but, at least in Massachusetts, by law only registered patients can get drugs there, and they’ll have tight security. So “stores” sounds like an overly expansive description.
Well, it’s just a way for people to wrap their heads around it. As you know, we’ve had 80-plus years of marijuana prohibition in our country. And now states like Massachusetts are taking steps toward allowing the retail sale in tightly controlled atmospheres, but nonetheless the retail sale of medical marijuana to qualifying patients.
What do you say to those people who are concerned that no matter how much regulation and security there is, some of these operations could lead to more illegal drug activity?
I think it’s unlikely that there will be significant illegal drug activity taking place from these stores. At the end of the day, what we’re going to have is very intensive security at all of these dispensaries in terms of cameras, etcetera. So they’ll be sort of on par with a bank in terms of the security in place. So I think it’s unlikely that people will then try to rob them or redistribute the medical marijuana. Of course, if that does occur, that is 100 percent illegal.
You mentioned federal law. And in many states where medical marijuana is legal, the DEA and U.S. attorneys have raided dispensaries or cracked down in other ways. What do you anticipate happening here in Massachusetts on that front?
To be clear, medical marijuana is illegal federally, despite the fact there’s numerous states that have medical marijuana laws. What we’ve found in places like Colorado, and I believe will happen in Massachusetts, is if people act in accordance with that clear state law, then the federal government has sent a message that they are not interested in prosecuting people that are following the medical marijuana law. Now, the second people step outside of that law — redistributing or selling across state line — that’s when the federal government gets interested.
So it’s our prediction the federal government will probably go pretty hands-off and allow this vote of the people to be meaningful for Massachusetts.
Important Things You Need To Know About The Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Program
“Our new FAQ for potential medical marijuana patients in Mass. If you find it useful, please share” Well Shaleen, considering this information is AWESOME, I will share it as much as I can. I encourage all TWB readers to do the same:
It’s an exciting time in Massachusetts! Finally, patients who need it will be able to have safe and dignified access to medical marijuana.
As the country’s first national medical marijuana law firm, we have received a flood of questions at our Massachusetts office over the past week. The following explanations are a response to the most common questions we’ve received from phone calls, emails, and on our Facebook page. Please note that these are educational materials, not legal advice. We hope you find them helpful.
The Department of Public Health is charged with writing regulations to implement the law in terms of the registration process for patients and caregivers and the application process for treatment centers. Therefore, many of the details surrounding those processes will not be available until the regulations are released in 2013.
Becoming a medical marijuana patient is a serious undertaking, and there are many precautions you should take if you choose to become a patient. We encourage you to attend our free public seminar in the Community Room of the Cambridge Community Center on November 29. More details are at the end of this page.
When does the law go into effect?
The Massachusetts medical marijuana law goes into effect January 1, 2013. Please be aware that before that date, medical marijuana patients in MA likely have no protections, regardless of whether you already have a recommendation from your doctor.
What does it mean to be a qualifying patient?
Within certain limits (discussed later), a qualifying patient cannot be punished under MA law for using medical marijuana or possessing a 60 day supply of medical marijuana.
Until the regulations implementing cultivation registrations are released by the Department of Public Health in May 2013, all qualifying patients are permitted to cultivate a limited amount of marijuana.
How can I become a qualifying patient?
In order to become a qualifying patient protected by the new law, you must have a document called a “written certification” signed by a licensed physician. This certification demonstrates that your doctor has diagnosed your debilitating medical condition and that your doctor feels that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh any health risks for your specific condition.
By May 2013, the Department of Public Health will issue regulations outlining how to obtain a medical marijuana registration card. We will update our FAQ a soon as that process is decided. Until then, your written certification will serve as a registration card. In order to obtain the protections under the law, you must keep a copy of your written certification with you at all times you are in possession of medical marijuana and show that form to a law enforcement officer if he or she asks.
How do I talk to my doctor?
Be honest. There is nothing wrong with using medical marijuana or discussing it with your doctor. The MA medical marijuana law specifically protects doctors from any punishment by the state for advising patients about medical marijuana or providing patients with certification. If you doctor is nervous, bring a copy of the law with you. Additionally, what you say to your doctor about your health is protected by medical confidentiality. You can tell your doctor about your condition, your experiences using conventional medicines, and (if applicable) your experiences using marijuana.
Does my recommendation expire?
There is no expiration date listed in the law; however, the Department of Public Health may include an expiration when it releases its regulations.
When can I obtain marijuana from a medical marijuana treatment center?
Treatment centers will open in 2014 at the earliest, based on the timeline stated in the law — four months for the Department of Public Health to develop regulations and applications; additional time for potential treatment centers to apply; and three months for the Department to consider the applications and issue registrations.
What is a caregiver and what do I do if I need one?
A caregiver is a person who assists you with obtaining medical marijuana if you need it. If you are a qualifying patient, you can designate a caregiver, who must be at least 21 years old. Again, by May 2013, the Department of Public Health will issue regulations outlining how a caregiver obtains a registration card. Before then, in lieu of a registration card, a caregiver should keep a copy of the qualifying patient’s application to the Department of Public Health showing that the caregiver was designated by the patient.
Can I grow marijuana or can my caregiver grow marijuana for me?
If you are a qualifying patient AND you qualify as having a “hardship”, yes. A hardship means that you are unable to access a treatment center for one of several reasons. If there is no treatment center within a reasonable distance of your residence, or none have opened yet, then either you or your caregiver can grow medical marijuana for you. It must be grown in an enclosed, locked facility, and you can only grow enough to maintain a 60-day supply of marijuana for your own use. The Department of Public Health will specify in its regulations how much marijuana a 60-day supply is.
Until final regulations are issued, your written certification permits you to cultivate a 60 day supply of medical marijuana. We recommend keeping a copy of this written certification on the wall of the enclosed lock space you are cultivating your medical marijuana.
Is using medical marijuana illegal federally?
Yes, even after the Massachusetts medical marijuana law goes into effect, medical marijuana will remain illegal under federal law. Despite the protections to patients from state and local police, as discussed herein, medical marijuana patients remain subject to federal arrest and prosecution even if they are in full compliance with state law. It should be noted that federal prosecutions of individual medical marijuana patients and their caregivers are rare. The federal Department of Justice has noted it is a low enforcement priority for them to investigate and prosecute patients and their individual caregivers if they are in unambiguous compliance with state law.
What happens to people using marijuana who are not qualified medical patients?
Generally, penalties for possession of marijuana for everyone except qualifying patients will remain the same. The possession of one ounce of marijuana or less for personal use will remain a civil offense with a maximum fine of $100.
There is an important exception, however. Fraudulently using a medical marijuana registration card or cultivation registration will be a misdemeanor or, if distribution/sales are involved, a felony.
What are the limits for patients?
There are two limits you should be aware of. Qualifying patients are only protected from punishment if:
1) You only possess the amount of marijuana necessary for a sixty-day supply for your own personal, medical use (again, what amount constitutes a 60-day supply will soon be determined by the Department of Public Health)
2) You present your registration card (or your written certification from your doctor, until you are able to obtain your card) to any law enforcement official who questions you regarding the use of marijuana.
It is also important to note that the new law does not give you the right to smoke medical marijuana in public.
Will insurance cover medical marijuana?
Not likely. Nothing in the medical marijuana law requires any health insurance provider to reimburse patients for the expenses of the medical use of marijuana.
How can I learn more?
To learn more about the Massachusetts medical marijuana law and our advice for patients in particular, join us on Thursday, November 29 for a free public seminar at 6:00pm in the Community Room of the Cambridge Community Center. The seminar is open to anyone who wants to attend, but you must register in advance here. We will cover all aspects of the law, including a know-your-rights component in case of police encounters. Presented by Vicente Sederberg, LLC and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Speakers include:
Brian Vicente, Esq., (licensed in Colorado) is a founding member of Vicente Sederberg, LLC, a law firm providing legal solutions for the medical marijuana community. He also serves as executive director of Sensible Colorado, Colorado’s leading non-profit working for medical marijuana patients and providers. Brian is the chair of the Denver Mayor’s Marijuana Policy Review Panel, serves on the Colorado Department of Revenue Medical Marijuana Oversight Panel, and coordinates the Colorado Bar Association’s Drug Policy Project. He was awarded the prestigious Gideon award for his free speech advocacy during the 2008 Democratic National Convention and was selected as “Freedom Fighter of the Month” by High Times magazine. In 2010 Brian was elected the first-ever chair of the National Cannabis Industry Association, the only trade association in the U.S. that works to advance the interests of cannabis-related businesses on the national level. Recently, Brian authored and directed the campaign for Amendment 64, a successful ballot initiative to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol in the state of Colorado.
Christian Sederberg, Esq., (licensed in Colorado) is a founding member of Vicente Sederberg, LLC. After graduating from the University of Colorado School of Law in May 2005, Christian focused his practice on representing small and medium sized businesses, with a primary focus on real estate, commercial and business transactions. In addition to providing general guidance to medical marijuana businesses, ancillary businesses and caregivers about local and state medical marijuana ordinances, regulations and laws, Christian has provided a wide range of real estate and business transactional and regulatory assistance to the medical marijuana community, including negotiating the purchase and sale of a number medical marijuana businesses, negotiating and documenting the transfer of medical marijuana facilities, drafting leases, subleases, employment contracts (on behalf of both growers and medical marijuana business owners), partnership agreements and operating agreements and representing individuals and businesses in front of the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division.
Shaleen Title, Esq., (licensed in Massachusetts) is an associate with Vicente Sederberg, LLC and directs the Massachusetts branch. She holds a graduate degree in accounting; she worked in the multistate tax group of Deloitte Tax analyzing and identifying tax opportunities and assisting in preparing tax compliance and reviewing tax provisions for complex multistate clients. She was the 2010 recipient of the Hunter S. Thompson young attorney award and the September 2012 recipient of the High Times Freedom Fighter award. Prior to joining Vicente Sederberg, she served as state campaigns director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, where she managed a global network of cops, judges, prosecutors, federal agents and corrections officials who support a legal and regulated model to control drugs. She serves on the board of directors for Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Marijuana Majority.
Karen Hawkes is a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition who served as a Massachusetts state trooper for thirteen years. During that time, she served as a contraband officer, processing narcotics evidence and preparing it to be analyzed. Karen graduated cum laude from both Northeastern University for her BSBA degree in finance and Western New England College for her graduate degree in criminal justice administration. She is also a member of the Massachusetts Patients Advocacy Alliance. As a mother and someone has worked with children in several capacities including her work as a Girl Scout leader and Sunday school teacher, she is very concerned about the effect of the war on drugs on children and on law enforcement officers.
Massachusetts’ voters have approved a measure to legalize medical marijuana.
CBS Boston reports the measure is projected to pass with 63 percent in favor and 37 percent against, with 94 percent of precincts reporting as of 10:45 a.m. ET Wednesday morning.
That makes Massachusetts the 18th state in the country in addition to Washington D.C. to permit medical marijuana’s use
Known as Question 3, the measure was proposed by petition, and called patients to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for personal medical use, according to the web site of William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The law is set to go into effect January 1, 2013.
To qualify, patients would need to be diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis and obtain written certification from a doctor “with whom the patient has a bona fide physician-patient relationship.”
Those who qualify will be allowed a 60-day supply of marijuana for personal medical use, an amount to be decided by the state’s Department of Public Health before the law is enacted. Patients would also need to register with the health department.
Also under the law, non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers would be able to grow and provide marijuana to patients or designated personal caregivers. Patients would only be able to cultivate their own 60-day supply of marijuana if they had limited access to treatment centers, such as through financial hardships or physical inability.
Fraudulent use of medical marijuana registration could be punished by up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $500.
“Despite the vote, the Massachusetts Medical Society continues to assert that marijuana has not been proven to be medicine,” the state physicians group, which opposed the measure, said in astatement. “Until its effectiveness is proven clinically and accepted by the FDA, we urge physicians to refrain from recommending it to their patients.”
The Associated Press reports that a medical marijuana initiative in Arkansas that was also on the Nov. 2012 ballot failed to pass, with 51 percent against and 49 percent in support. The AP says the proposal saw the strongest report in urban areas while rural ones soundly rejected the measure.
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