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Many Seek Clarification of Mass. Medical Marijuana Law as Listening Tour Begins

Public hearings on the future regulation of medical marijuana in Massachusetts will be held this month, but as a deadline approaches, some are concerned that the state’s final regulations may come later than expected.

Beginning Wednesday evening, state officials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health will hold a series of public listening sessions before the implementation of medical marijuana regulations.

Under the law, which went into effect in January, the state has 120 days to hear comments and draft regulations on the use of medical marijuana. Alec Loftus, a spokesman from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, says that the Department of Public Health is looking for input on a few key areas…

Rick Gulla, a spokesman for the The Massachusetts Medical Society, a group that represents physicians across the Commonwealth, said that the Society will be meeting with the DPH to share their opinion. The Society is not opposed to medical marijuana use but would like to see a number of issues addressed.

The Society is also asking the Department to reclassify marijuana, to allow it’s oversight by the state’s prescription monitoring program.

Matt Allen of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance contacted WAMC via email, saying that his organization “is concerned that any significant delay in issuing regulations will mean that patients with serious illnesses will suffer unnecessarily without safe access to their medicine.”

Some state lawmakers have also introduced pieces of legislation that would make changes to the medical marijuana law. State Representative John Sciback of South Hadley supports the legalization of medical marijuana, but also filed a bill that would make clarifications to the language included in the original ballot measure that was approved last November.

Sciback said that he hopes the Department of Public Health will be able craft their regulations by their May 1st goal.

Another bill introduced by State Senator John Keenan, who chairs the Joint Committee on Public Health, would delay the implementation of the regulations by several months to allow municipalities time to ensure their local laws are adjusted to accommodate the use of medical marijuana.

The listening sessions will be held Wednesday in Worcestery, Thursday in Boston, and on Wednesday, February 27th at Holyoke Community College.

More information can be found here:


Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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