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Massachusetts MMJ Program Rules Open for Comments for April 19 Public Hearings


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Hey Peeps,

I have been reviewing the draft proposed MMJ regulations that Massachusetts is considering right now. The materials are available on their website and links are provided below; they are accepting comments by e-mail

This is the time for public comment! I have spent the past few hours drawing up my own comments, which I am sharing below. Note that there are three simultaneous meetings in three different venues; I have no idea what the reason for this is and how they could imaging managing this effectively, but we need to get into each one of these meetings to make sure we aren't screwed over by overzealous bureaucratic rules.

Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

DPH Draft Regulations (PDF)

DPH Draft Regulations (DOC)

Notice of Public Hearings: Medical Marijuana (DOC)

Massachusetts MMJ Program Statutes (Link)


Notice is hereby given pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A, §2, that the Department of Public Health will hold public hearings on proposed regulations at 105 CMR 725.000, as required by Chapter 369 of the Acts of 2012, An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana.

All three hearings will be held on Friday, April 19, 2013, at 10:00 a.m., at the following locations:
1. Plymouth Memorial Hall, 83 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360
2. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Public Health Council Room, 250 Washington St., 2nd floor, Boston, MA 02108
3. Look Park Garden House, 300 N. Main St., Florence, MA 01062

Speakers are requested to provide a copy of their oral testimony. The Department encourages all interested parties to submit testimony electronically to the following address: Reg.Testimony@state.ma.us. Please submit electronic testimony as an attached Word document or as text within the body of an email and type "Medical Marijuana" in the subject line. All submissions must include the sender's full name and address. The Department will post all electronic testimony that complies with these instructions on its website. Parties who are unable to submit electronic testimony should mail submissions to LouAnn Stanton, Office of the General Counsel, Department of Public Health, 250 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108. All written or oral comments submitted to the Department may be posted on the Department's website and released in response to a request for public records. All testimony must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, 2013.

A copy of the proposed amendments may be viewed on the Department's website or obtained from LouAnn Stanton, Office of the General Counsel, at 617-624-5220.

Comments to Proposed Rules for Medical Marijuana for Massachusetts Patients

Aardvark's Comments

Conducting these meetings simultaneously in three separate venues is a questionable approach and unless these venues are synchronized, it will keep important information from being shared across the entire community. I can see no justifiable reason to compartmentalize these proceedings and the Commonwealth is not known for conducting it's legislative agenda on such terms, so this situation should be no exception.

These regulations should always be in the best interest of the patients of the Commonwealth, who have been patiently suffering in silence for years without recourse, under the constant threat of criminal prosecution, loss of livelihood, personal rights and freedom. Also remember that these people were the pioneers that helped make this program a reality and admiring them for their prescience, insight and forethought is richly deserved.

Registration should be voluntary, as there will be many who already are successfully providing for themselves by growing their own with no impact to their neighbors, family or community. The law in Maine was changed last year to make registration voluntary because it made sense to save budget dollars and streamline adoption, and has been very successful in Maine and California; it respects the canon of HIPAA and helps to maintain the dignity and privacy of all patients and prevents abuse of the system.

1.1 Every aspect of this program should be beneficial and not create more work without demonstrating such benefits. No data should be collected without justification for it's necessity.

1.2 A patient should not have to register for this program because of their choice of medication.

1.3 The qualifying factor for the use of medical Marijuana should remain confidential between doctor and patient, who should not have to divulge their medical information to non-medical professionals who are outside the functional loop of treatment; this violates HIPAA.

1.4 Voluntary registration saves the Commonwealth from incurring significant effort and will minimize the startup impact and overall operational costs.

1.5 Many of these patients are on a fixed disability income and cannot afford the cost of registration, so these fees for registration and home cultivation will end up being waived regardless of it being voluntary or not.

1.6 Self-sufficient home growing will make a big difference to patients between being able to afford their existence, and subsistence without affordable treatment or budget for other necessities. The president today announced his willingness to cut back on Social Security COLA today; you know it is going to get worse for this economic class of people.

1.7 A Doctor's certifying statement, as specified by a template the Commonwealth provides, should be sufficient for any patient to possess, use, grow and purchased marijuana from caregivers or dispensaries, without needlessly having to involve the Commonwealth as go-between.

1.8 The patients have been using marijuana for years to treat themselves already and know how this works better than the Commonwealth does; respect these experienced patients as valuable resources who can help the Commonwealth achieve a balance of effective channels of treatment that should be no more trouble to participate in than is filling a conventional prescription at a pharmacy.

1.9 Making a patient register as a MMJ patient reminds me of my Jewish ancestors having to register and wear stars in the ghettos of pre-war Germany. Please don't differentiate this class of people from everyone else — you would be overwhelmed if you knew how many people you know are intimate with MMJ already and they don't need directions, hand-holding or to be in the spotlight of public scrutiny.

1.10 Page 9, #10 Commonwealth has a "blue sky" information submittal requirement for registration: (10) Any other information required by the Department. This is completely ambiguous, outrageously vague and enables rationalization of abusive policies while reducing discourse and stakeholder input.

1.11 If the registration card is unavoidable, then the process should enforce strict security over the information and data generated, with no distribution en masse of multiple names comprising a list being available online or by printing by any personnel, whether administrative or law enforcement. Having to retrieve registration confirmation should always be performed on a one by one basis, which gatekeeper security enforcing limitations on the concurrent number of registrations checked by a short list of authorized personnel within any 24 —hour period.

1.12 If the registration is unavoidable, then patients should have the option of designating a mailing address for communications and delivery of cards and that patients may be able to claim "homelessness" and a PO Box address and e-mail address should be sufficient for registration at no cost to the patient.

1.13 Assurances must be made that patient information shall never be released to any federal authority and that the Commonwealth shall assert a positive defense of any such efforts by federal authorities.

1.14 Any patient should be able to share their medicine with other bona fide patients on a not-for-profit, ad hoc basis if a medical necessity exists or if through the act of teaching and mentoring a new patient how to work with MMJ issues, products and regulations.

1.15 For what reason would a caregiver in a hospice be prohibited from providing complete palliative care to the dying patient, including MMJ treatments? This is offensive meddling into the very private and cruel experience of dying and hospice patients and caregivers should be exempt from such a willful and unnecessary intrusion at the end of life without further insult.

1.16 Hardship cultivation should not require the location of the patient's cultivation site; since there is no provision for inspection, there is no need for the data; this generates more work and data for the Commonwealth to manage and increases the risk of it being unintentionally divulged.
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