BOSTON, MA — Hearings were held May 6 at the State House on several bills that would gut the medical marijuana program approved by Massachusetts voters in November. The proposals, contained in Senate Bill 1031 and three companion bills, would, among other things, limit the number of dispensaries to 10 statewide, limit patients to 2 ounces a month, strictly limit the list of conditions for which cannabis could be prescribed, and invalidate all provisions for home growing while dispensaries are waiting to open.
SB 1031 was filed by state Senator John F. Keenan (D-Quincy), a longtime opponent of common-sense marijuana policies in the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 1031 would reduce the number of dispensaries allowed in the state from a voter-approved 35, including a minimum of 1 and maximum of 5 per county, to only 10 dispensaries allowed state-wide. The proposal would also limit medical marijuana patients to a supply of two ounces per month, down from the 60-day supply of ten ounces recommended by the Department of Public Health.
Most notably, Senate Bill 1031 limits the list of qualifying conditions to cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. This restrictive list does not include chronic pain, ulcerative colitis, paralysis, PTSD and many other conditions that patients can find relief from medical marijuana.
Matt Allen of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance was the first of many advocates who spoke against the proposed measures and the harm they would do to patient access. One man spoke movingly and concisely to the weak points of the proposed legislation in a statement that was read aloud by the man’s computer because his illness had rendered him voiceless. Several specialists in drug rehab spoke in favor of the bill, citing the usual concerns that marijuana would be diverted to the general public and especially children.
The provisions in the proposed bills that would prohibit the temporary use of home growing were also supported by landlords who expressed concerns that they would be forced to tolerate marijuana smoke and the smell of growing marijuana in old apartment buildings with imperfect isolation between apartments. One owner cited her century-old hardwood floors, which would be ruined by a grow operation of any kind.
The Joint Committee on Public Health is co-chaired by Sen. Keenan and Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (D-Jamaica Plain), both longtime opponents of medical marijuana in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts residents are urged to contact their elected officials and encourage them to oppose Senate Bill 1031.
You can find your state legislator’s contact information here: