The Associated Press

State House Rally Pushes To Speed Up Medical Marijuana Access

BOSTON — Massachusetts residents suffering from multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and other debilitating illnesses rallied at the State House Thursday to call on Gov. Deval Patrick to speed up the process for opening medical marijuana dispensaries so they can safely purchase the drug.

Matthew Allen, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, said patients fear the dispensaries will not be ready to open by the summer as initially projected, because of delays in the licensing process.

“We’ve lost sight of what this is really about,” Allen said. “The process has become politicized. This is about compassion for people with serious illnesses who still do not have access to their medicine.”

The state Department of Public Health, which is charged with vetting dispensary applicants, said the approval process is ongoing but offered no timeline for when it might be completed. The department awarded 20 temporary licenses at the end of January, but is still verifying the applications.

Spokesman David Kibbe said the department is trying to strike the appropriate balance between “patient access and public safety.”

Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law took effect in January 2013, allowing physicians to recommend marijuana to patients for the treatment of a range of ailments, including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Hepatitis C and Parkinson’s disease.

The law also established a state registry of medical marijuana patients and allowed for creation of up to 35 state-licensed dispensaries.

Advocates also called on the state to increase the number of patients an individual may sell medical marijuana to. Under state regulations, a “caregiver” can only provide marijuana for one patient at a time. The limit is five patients in neighboring Rhode Island and Maine.

“Right now there’s no constant or consistent supply,” said Nichole Snow Dawson, who said her husband suffers from neurofibromatosis. “My husband is forced to go to the black market and sometimes do without medicine at all.”

Thursday’s rally came as state lawmakers held a hearing on a proposal to legalize and tax marijuana outright.

Introduced by state Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, the legislation would allow adults aged 21 and older to possess and grow marijuana. It would also establish a “Cannabis Control Authority” to tax and regulate the drug.

Matt Simon, of the D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, said it’s time for Massachusetts to join Colorado and Washington in creating a regulated cannabis market where drug profits can go to taxpaying businesses rather than underground criminal organizations.

Simon noted that Massachusetts has already made two significant changes to its marijuana laws: decriminalization of possession of an ounce or less of the drug and creation of a medical marijuana program.

Story’s bill was heard by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, which was not expected to vote on the measure Thursday.

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  • HumphreyPloughjogger

    The legislation heard today needlessly creates a new bureaucracy, creates opportunity for crony capitalist, like the Medical Marijuana law, and taxes for an average at the incredible rate of $100 on vegetable matter that if completely liberated would cost a few dollars to produce.

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  • X-Ray

    Yeah, push that Marijuana, make it easy and lower the barriers. But that ethical pain -control drugs are too dangerous and must be blocked. What an Administration we have in MA.

    • Kit Love

      I do not think “ethical” is the word you are looking for. It’s pretty easy to find the reasoning behind the administration’s actions. A quick google search will tell you that MA is among the top few states in the country for opiate addiction/abuse/overdose. I never label a substance that is killing thousands a year as “ethical”… ESPECIALLY not in comparison to a substance that has killed none.

      • X-Ray

        Yes, I meant “ethical”. Look it up.

        • Kit Love

          I did actually, to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood it to mean “horrible thing that kills people and ruins lives” when I read your comment initially.

          So let me just say this instead…. Opiates are not ethical and cause millions more problems than marijuana. Have fun with your “ethical” addiction and overdose.

          • X-Ray

            FYI: Noun1.ethical drug – a drug that is available only with written instructions from a doctor or dentist to a pharmacist;

          • Kit Love

            I am reading, please stop projecting your poor communication mistakes on to me. The term you are looking for is “Prescription drug” still not ethical.

          • X-Ray

            Not according to Webster.

          • AmKon Dot Net

            So adults shouldn’t be allowed to responsibly consume alcohol or tobacco? How about take tylenol for a headache? Drink coffee in the morning?

          • X-Ray

            Tobacco, alcohol, coffee nor Tylenol require a prescription and so are not ethical drugs.

          • AmKon Dot Net

            So you are only ok with drugs a doctor prescribes? People can’t decide what to put in their own bodies?

          • AmKon Dot Net

            Did you know synthetic THC, the primary psychoactive chemical in cannabis (marijuana) is legally prescribed already (marinol)? Why is the entire plant form not acceptable?

          • X-Ray

            If it is already legaly prescribed, then there is no need for further expansion or ditribution.

          • AmKon Dot Net

            Except the pill form is nowhere near as useful to many patients who actually need the medical use of cannabis (eg cancer/AIDS wasting patients who can’t swallow a pill). And I still see no reason why adults shouldn’t be able to use whatever substance they choose in the safety of their own home as long as they harm no one else.

    • AmKon Dot Net

      Are you seriously comparing a non-toxic herb with prescription pain medication?

      • X-Ray

        Yes. And the “non-toxic herb” isn’t.

        • AmKon Dot Net

          Yes it is- no deaths ever from consumption.

          • X-Ray

            Yes, there have been, plus the consequential effects wherein injury and deaths as a result of while operating under mind-altered conditions.

          • Kit Love

            Do you even science????? Seriously, put up or shut up. don’t reply to me unless you supply a scientific study proving marijuana has killed one person…ever…

          • X-Ray

            Show a scientific study that, as you claim, MJ has never killed or injured anyone, ever.

          • Kit Love

            Why are you calling me uninformed when you do not understand the basics of burden of proof? Are you capable of mature discussion without being snarky, immature and insulting everyone who disagrees with you?!? If you think you can claim something kills people w/o scientific study proving it then you are so uninformed you probably shouldn’t share your opinions at all… no one really cares for you opinions that you feel so strongly about you believe it counts as fact.

            Also, you linked an article that was about someone dying from a car accident. Do you understand the concept of cause of death?

          • X-Ray

            The root cause of the car deaths were operating under the influence of the drug MJ. Where is the research to back up your claims?

          • Kit Love

            If someone dies from a heart attack, and likes to eat Twinkies… the cause of dead is still a heart attack not twinkies. If someone picks up a gun a shoots you, the person who did it is going to jail… not the gun.

            Also, it’s common knowledge there has never been a death from marijuana. so, there wouldn’t be any “proof” because nothing happened. No one died from it.

          • X-Ray

            Apologist BS

          • Kit Love

            opiate addict bs.. MILLIONS of people addicted, lives ruined, or dead and opiates are the cause.

          • AmKon Dot Net

            There is actually data (from the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to prove that legalizing medical marijuana reduces the amount of traffic fatalities, likely due to the reduction of alcohol consumption.

            http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/papers/viewAbstract?dp_id=6112

            Also violent crime has dropped since Colorado legalized recreational use debunking another prohibitionist argument-

            http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0092816#pone.0092816-American1

          • AmKon Dot Net

            There is literally never been a death from cannabis consumption, you cannot find any statistics or data suggesting otherwise. No one has suggested operating machinery or driving is a good idea under the influence, however I would call “cause of death” being an idiot.

          • X-Ray

            So there are a lot of Cannabis usrs who’s death certificates should list “being an idiot” as the cause of death? So we can’t charge them as DUI? Ridiculous.

          • AmKon Dot Net

            Apparently you didn’t read the study I posted earlier- crashes are down in states with medical cannabis.

            http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/papers/viewAbstract?dp_id=6112

            I will repeat myself, no one is suggesting you drive intoxicated on any substance legal or otherwise. With that being said there is no fatal crash epidemic relating to cannabis use, there is simply no data to support such an assertion.

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