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Medical Marijuana Law in Massachusetts

Medical Marijuana Law in Massachusetts

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Medical Marijuana Law in Massachusetts

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  1. Medical Marijuana Law in Massachusetts Cheryl Sbarra, MAHB 781-721-0183/sbarra@mahb.org DJ Wilson, MMA 617-426-7272/djwilson@mma.org March 21, 2013

  2. Referendum Question Recap • Approved 63%-37% in November 2012 • Only 2 municipalities voted no (Mendon and Lawrence) • Technically in effect as of January 1 (MDs can now issue “written certifications” to “qualifying patients” who will also receive a “limited cultivation registration” until dispensaries open) • In the first year, the state can approve 35 not-for-profit dispensaries, at least 1 per county and not more than 5 per county

  3. DPH Responsibilities • 1) Define “presumptive 60-day supply” • Presumption can be rebutted. • 2) Issue “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center” registrations [dispensaries] - to “not for profit entities” - marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies and marijuana-related products, like food. • 3) Register “Medical Treatment Center Dispensary Agents” [dispensary staff] • 4) Issue “Registration Cards” to “Qualifying Patients” [users] • 5) Issue “Hardship Cultivation” registrations

  4. Who is a “qualifying patient” • A patient with a “debilitating medical condition” as diagnosed by a licensed physician. • Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, crohn’s disease, parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and • Other conditions “as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.” • What is a patient is symptom-free but has a diagnosis of a “debilitating condition.”

  5. Protection for Health Care Professionals • A physician, and other health care professionals under a physician’s supervision can: • Advise a qualifying patient about risks and benefits of medical use of marijuana • Provide a qualifying patient with written certification • Based on assessment of patient’s medical history and condition • That medical use of marijuana may benefit patient.

  6. DPH Projected Timeline: • March 29: regulation draft released. • April 10: regulation draft presented to state’s Public Health Council. • April 19: three public hearings (may be Plymouth, Boston and Northampton). • April 20: end of public comment. • May 8: Public Health Council votes. • May 24: projected effective date.

  7. Limits of the State Law • No requirement for health insurance reimbursement. • MDs not mandated to approve patient use. • Does not affect non-medical marijuana use/possession/growing laws. • No requirement of accommodation for on-site marijuana use. • No federal law immunity. • Cannot operate under the influence.

  8. Local Options - Dispensaries BAN • The Massachusetts Attorney General disapproved Wakefield’s town meeting-approved bylaw banning dispensaries. • Conflicts with the state law. • Cities do not require the same AG approval for city ordinances, however same legal argument would apply to cities.

  9. Local Options - Dispensaries MORATORIUM • The Massachusetts Attorney General approved Burlington’s town meeting-approved bylaw that imposes a temporary moratorium on dispensaries until June 30, 2014 as it is “limited in time period and scope” • Therefore it does not “conflict” with the state law.

  10. Local Options – Dispensaries ZONING • Control dispensaries in regards to: • Location (existing zone or overlay zone). • Similar to adult-only entertainment zones. • Establishment size/frontage. • Parking minimums/maximums. • Distance from schools/parks/residences. • Signage.

  11. Local Options - Dispensaries “SALES” ORDINANCE OR BYLAW • Mimic tobacco regulations to: • Issue local operation licenses after meeting certain conditions and paying annual fee (i.e., same fee as liquor store license fee).. • Banning vending machines, roll-your-own, self-service displays, free samples, coupons. • Require signage. • Provide penalty scheme including license suspension. • Determine hours of operation. • Control on-premises consumption.

  12. Local Options - Dispensaries BOARD OF HEALTH PERMITS • Permits the sale of “food, tinctures, aerosols, oils or ointments.” • BOH will probably need to issue retail food service permits as well as operation permits. • Most likely will not be able to prohibit food products. • Don’t forget what the AG told Wakefield!

  13. Local Options – Home Cultivation • DPH controls permitting process for Qualifying Patients regarding home cultivation. • Suggestions to include municipalities in this area of the law have been made. They include: • Identify the local locations where home cultivation is taking place (as well as where dispensaries will grow product). • Appoint an Ombudsman to work with cities and towns. • Ensure home cultivators do not sell to individuals or to dispensaries. • Public health concerns about growing inside. • Electricity, mold, disposal of waste, etc.

  14. State Law - Usage • Mass. Smoke-Free Workplace Law (MGL Ch. 270 §22) defines “smoking” as the “lighting of a cigar, cigarette, pipe, or other tobacco product or possessing a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or other tobacco OR NON-TOBACCO PRODUCT DESIGNED TO BE COMBUSTED AND INHALED. • Does not include other means of usage.

  15. State Law - Usage • Smoking marijuana is banned… • 1) in workplaces and public places as defined in state law. • 2) anywhere a local regulation bans smoking IF the “smoking” definition matches the state law definition. • 3) in smoke-free public housing IF marijuana is specifically mentioned or the “smoking” definition matches the state law definition.

  16. Local Options - Usage • The State’s Smoke-free Workplace law is anti-preemptive and municipalities have banned smoking in: • Outdoor Dining Areas • Parks • Playgrounds • Non-School Playing Fields • Town-Sponsored Events • Beaches • Cemeteries

  17. DPH Regulations Are Right Around the Corner • Need to review proposed DPH regulations. • They will be on DPH’s website on March 29th. • Hopefully, they will answer some of our questions and concerns. • Local regulations should be able to address issues not covered in DPH regulations. • Local fees should be based on amount of resources that will be needed.

  18. Shameless Plug • Over 400,000 Americans still die from tobacco-related illnesses annually (many more than from marijuana!) • We are happy to help you update your local tobacco measures with state-of-the-art policies. • Give us a call!