In November last year, Massachusetts joined hands with 17 other states in the country, demanding the legalization of medical marijuana use. The 45-page regulations draft stating various cannabis facts, developed by the Department of Public Health, lists patients suffering from difficult and incurable medical conditions such as glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, cancer, ALS and hepatitis C, eligible for the legal use of medical marijuana.
Under the new regulations draft, the medical practitioners of the state are given authority to prescribe medical marijuana for patients suffering from intractable pain and nausea. The draft also legalizes the use of marijuana by patients with debilitating conditions that limit major life activities. The original draft, which was put up for suggestions, insists on the medical marijuana treatment centers being non-profit organizations that grow marijuana in cultivation facilities owned by them. The rough draft based on various cannabis facts also imposes regulations on patients that prevent them from possessing more than 10 ounces of marijuana at any given time.
The Department of Public Health went a step further and got the voters including patients, lawyers, health care providers and drug abuse counselors involved in the process of shaping the final draft, which was originally scheduled for approval in the month of March. This was done with the help of a department sponsored public hearing held on Friday at Look Park. In the hearing, the 27 speakers advised the state health officials on how to regulate the sale of medical marijuana in the estate and offered valuable suggestions on modifying the existing draft of regulations.
The mandatory $500,000 escrow account necessary of obtaining the license for marijuana dispensers was considered excessive by many speakers including Thomas Lesser, a Northampton lawyer and the executive director of Tapestry Health, Leslie Tarr Laurie. They expressed the belief that this law would make established health care organizations hesitant in getting involved and suggested a waiver for interested parties who have already established their credibility in the field.
Health director for Amherst, Julie Federman recommended an initial inspection before sanctioning the approval of any facility. She also insisted on periodical follow up inspections after the dispensary starts functioning.
More suggestions given at the hearing includes establishing a radial distance of 1000 foot from the dispensary to any schools, day cares or adult care facilities. Facilities growing their own marijuana might face crop failures at times. Assistance from other dispensaries to compensate for the lack of production was another recommended addition to the draft.
The final draft that accommodates these suggestions will be submitted for approval from the Public Health Council in the month of May.