The MA Department of Public Health, after a postponement, held its Boston hearing on the proposed medical-marijuana regulations on Monday, April 22nd. Other hearings were also held in Florence and Plymouth, MA.
At the Boston hearing, roughly three points of view were on display. (Only the public spoke, there were no remarks by DPH representatives except to welcome the crowd.)
1) Representatives of law enforcement and drug-counseling agencies said the regulations were too lax, that the supply allowed was too large, and that marijuana would be diverted to recreational users, including children.
2) Patients and patient advocates warned that the regulations would make it impossible for patients who cannot grow their own marijuana to find “caregivers” to grow for them while dispensaries are still waiting to open. One particularly well-composed presentation was made by a patient in a wheelchair using a reading machine.
3) Potential operators of dispensaries were disturbed by a provision that a dispensary must open within 120 days of receiving DPH approval. All who spoke to the issue agreed that the time limit was too restrictive, and that dispensaries should be given leeway to navigate the many roadblocks facing them as long as they are moving forward in good faith. Both patients and potential dispensary operators suggested that the provision that each dispensary must grow its own marijuana, together with the provision that each patient would be able to buy from only one dispensary, means that each dispensary would be a monopoly, and the best product could not be shared among dispensaries.
The period for submitting written testimony is now closed. The Department of Public Health will consider the testimony in hand and issue the revised regulations in May.