The Associated Press

Mass. Releases Proposed Medical Marijuana Regulations

Audio report above is by WBUR’s Martha Bebinger, and text report below is by The Associated Press.

dispensaries will be mandated to provide discounted rates for low-income residents, in an effort to minimize home cultivation. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Dispensaries will be mandated to provide discounted rates for low-income residents, in an effort to minimize home cultivation. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

BOSTON — Recipients of medical marijuana in Massachusetts would be allowed up to 10 ounces of pot for 60 days under proposed rules issued Friday by state health officials.

All marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts must cultivate their own supply of the drug under the draft recommendations. They would establish guidelines for doctors and personal caregivers, require periodic laboratory testing of marijuana supplies, and impose safeguards designed to keep the drug from being misused or falling into the hands of youth.

Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question in November allowing medicinal marijuana for patients with certain conditions, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and AIDS. State health officials chose not to add to the current list of specific conditions in their recommendations, saying they would leave those decisions to doctors and patients.

The new law took effect on Jan. 1, but the Department of Public Health Department was given 120 days to draw up rules for implementing medical marijuana. The recommendations (PDF) issued on Friday must still be approved by the state Public Health Council following public hearings scheduled for April 19.

Officials said they consulted a variety of experts and reviewed medical marijuana laws in 17 other states while preparing the proposed rules.

“DPH solicited an unprecedented level of input in drafting these regulations to create a medical marijuana system that is right for Massachusetts,” the agency’s interim commissioner, Dr. Lauren Smith, said in a statement.

“We have sought to achieve a balanced approach that will provide appropriate access for patients, while maintaining a secure system that keeps out communities safe,” Smith said.

The new law allows for as many as 35 nonprofit dispensaries to open around the state where patients can receive up to a 60-day supply of marijuana.

While health officials recommended that the supply be limited to no more than 10 ounces, they also said doctors would in “limited circumstances” have the authority to increase the supply.

The requirement that each dispensary operates its own cultivation facility “allows for uniform seed-to-sale control and maximum security,” the agency said. No wholesale distribution of marijuana products would be allowed.

In a small number of “hardship” cases, individual patients would be allowed to cultivate marijuana at their own homes, but dispensaries will be mandated to provide discounted rates for low-income residents, in an effort to minimize home cultivation.

The voter-approved law does not require patients to get prescriptions but only written recommendations from doctors for medical marijuana.

State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, D-Boston, the House chairman of the Legislature’s public health committee, said the draft rules were only a midpoint in what will be a lengthy regulatory process.

“There is still time for citizens to weigh in on this proposal and I encourage them to do so…through the public hearings or through written comment,” Sanchez said.

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  • Steven_Epstein

    Except for punishing the selling or gifting of it to children without parental consent, the growing of Cannabis (the plant) and selling Marijuana (the leaves, flowers and oils derived for the leaves and flowers) should be as free as the growing and selling of any other herb. That is, weighed on scales certified accurate by the
    Sealer of Weights and Measures, subject to the warranty of merchantability in
    accordance with other existing laws applicable to garden centers, florists, farm-stands, grocery stores.

    • Futo Buddy

      too bad there are some vultures who want monopolies who have helped draft the law for their own benefit

      • Dave Seaman

        And will always be so. This is still a step forward, is it not?

        • Futo Buddy

          we’ll see. in california the legalisation won’t pass because of the entrenched medical business model. the pot doctors are vehimently against the legalisation effort because then they would be out of the job

    • Dave Seaman

      This is an issue very different from the topic at hand. I agree with you, of course, but you;ve written in the wrong forum.

  • X-Ray

    But if a Community doesn’t want a dispensary in its territory (e..g Wakefield) the State will override those objections and will force a location there anyway?

    • Futo Buddy

      yup the voters have spoken

    • Dave Seaman

      This is an interesting take. I consider Belmont or West0on; two towns who are dry. But both of these towns have at least one pharmacy and most of the citizens of th3ese tyowns do not keep their prescription drugs under lock and key in their homes. (I taught at Belmont High). Medical MArijuanna is not to be treated the way PAckage Stores are; this is an issue of medical need and if someone is in a position where he or she requires this medication, why make it more difficult for the ill by having a community say they will not allow dispensing? It’s a moot p;oint; the state has voted and WAkefield hasn;t the right to deny it’s chronic pain or cancer patients their medication because they’ve managed to maintain a non liquor liscenced town. Two different topics. I hope that yes, the state will over ride it.

      • Futo Buddy

        martha coakley in a rare act of good sense already stopped the towns attempted bans

        • Aaron Enos

          Banning yes, but they can draw up their own zoning laws in order to block/stop a dispensary from being set up

          • Futo Buddy

            i am sure they will try maybe martha will stick to her guns on this one

    • Aaron Enos

      No the state has ruled that is all right for a town to draft up it own zoning laws in order to stop and prevent the distribution of marijuana sales from a dispensary.

  • LeonardNicodemo

    10 ounces is an obscene amount of pot for 60 days. If you roll a joint with half of a gram, the math boils down to about 9 joints a day, every day. That’s just ridiculous.

    • Futo Buddy

      and if your condition requires you to eat a quarter ounce a day then its not enough. people with cancer often require large doses of concentrates to help their condition.

    • Dave Seaman

      Are you a medical doctor or a chronic patient? As I said above, leave it to the ones who know.

    • cohara1103


    • Capecodcopblocker

      When your in pain like me it’s needed try living my life for a day and then say that titanium plates screws in neck complex regional pain syndrome

    • Suke Madiq

      The Rastas in Jaimaca smoke up to 3 ounces a day, and they are not unhealthy because of it.

  • Futo Buddy

    how are they going to define “hardship cases”? this dispensary only growing scheme is written by out of state california based dispensaries for their own benefit. one california dispensary recieved 4 of the 7 liscenses when this scheme was tried in Maine. what if a patient requires a specific strain? how will they know if the medicine is organic? if its not required to be, and it won’t be, then the patients will be forced to use synthetically grown medicine? let the patients grow their own, the only danger is that it cuts into the dispensaries bottom lime

  • Dave Seaman

    Like all medical steps involved, let’s be p[atient as physicians., patients and distributors work it out. I am a chronic pain patiednt for whom Marijunna is completely ineffective. Howevere I think that companies who know how to grow various strains should be doing it. As a chronic pain patienty i would hate to be responsible for making my own medicine. Let’s all butt out and allow the people inv0olved to work it out.

    • Futo Buddy

      what if the strain that helped cronic pain was not available at the clinic?

  • Malcolm Kyle

    When we regulate something we do NOT automatically condone it’s use; the regulations concerning alcohol and tobacco are there to protect us from the vast increase in criminality that would otherwise exist if these substances were prohibited.

    A regulated and licensed distribution network for all mind altering substances would put responsible adult supervision in between children and premature access to drug distribution outlets (illegal street dealers). Regulated and licensed distribution would reflect and respect society’s values, thus preventing children obtaining easy access to these substances. What we need is legalized regulation. What we have now, due to prohibition, is a non-regulated black market to which everybody has access and where all the profits go to organized crime and terrorists.

  • Francis Janik

    Unfortunately, What I see developing here is a “Box Canyon” situation where eventually the patients will be denied the right to simply use the plant. Pharmaceutical companies are racing right now to complete studies on both artificial THC such as Marinol and some plant based concentrations such as Sativex. These drugs will be owned by the companies that create them and Doctors will be encouraged to move away from the natural cannabis plant. It should be noted that Marinol is found by patients to be far less effective than smoked cannabis and has bad side effects.

    • bobby day

      patients will not be forced to abandon pot for substiutes

      • Francis Janik

        Bobby I hope you are right. I am a registered patient in Vermont so I know first hand the need for this plant. I fear we will have a great money grab by large corporations. The law is foucused to funnel patients into centers rather than allowing the option of home grow which I know from experience is a low cost way to get the exact meds that you need.

        • bobby day

          arent you allowed to grow in your state if yer a patient?this dispensary business is temporary, till its legalized all over then as you say a person could gro it for next to nothing or buy it dirt cheap i guess you gotta be patient ,but legalizations coming and nobody can stop it

          • Francis Janik

            Yes bobby, We are allowed to grow in Vermont. The Mass rules limit the home grow severely. Legalization is coming if everyone demands it. I know that congressman Barney Frank is in favor of legalization. There is a bill HR 499 in the 113th congress right now. Please take a look and share the information with your friends. We all have to demand that this plant is removed from Schedule 1. The biggest hurdle is Treaty Law. We forced other countries to sign a treaty prohibiting cannabis. Treaty Law trumps both Federal and State Law.

          • bobby day

            these treaties are soon to be dropped . no one has any regard for them anyway. the US cant blackmail these countries forever. the times indeed r a changin

          • Francis Janik

            I like your enthusiasm! Here is a link to the draft rules for Ma.


            Even in Vermont we are required to give up home grow if we want to use a dispensary. We do not have provisions for growers who loose a crop to theft or disease.

          • bobby day

            i tried reading it but it was too resrtictive. remember what Chuck Berry said. Too much monkey businessfor me to become involved with

          • Francis Janik

            You hit the nail on the head bobby. It is to much for everyone to become involved with. Everyone who drinks alcohol or smoke tobacco or uses narcotics and buries their collective heads in the sand will only prolong this prohibiton. Speak out now or risk being put in a cage!

  • Rob Catalano

    It’s incredible how gullible the masses are, when it comes to manipulations from others that are in the know! Can you imagine, hows better!

  • Michelle Mendonca

    I think it should all be grown like and eatable. When I feed my veggies I use things that I would eat myself. I think all the marijuana should be grown that way. Lots of people will be eating it,smoking doesn’t give you high enough dose for cancer. A cancer patient would need a pound for 2-3 months. They would need 1 1/2 -2 oz. of cannabis oil. In a case like that they would have to increase the dose. Cancer patients have to eat a gram a day of the oil. I’m very excited for this to get moving in Ma. Every time another person dies I cry. let’s save some people MA!!!

    • Guest

      thats whats sad about the proposal because those dispensaries wont sell organic medicine and patients wont be allowed to grow their own so they will only be able to access non organic medicine

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