Final pot rules give 10 ounces to patients

BOSTON (WWLP) — The Massachusetts Public Health Council approved final medical marijuana regulations Wednesday that clarify last year’s voter-approved ballot initiative that legalized pot in the Commonwealth.  The regulations allow patients to carry a 60-day supply of 10 ounces of the recreational drug. It instructs doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients with cancer, aids or other “debilitating medical conditions.”

“These final regulations set up a procedure to ensure that only patients with legitimate need will be getting these doctor’s recommendations.  It requires that the doctors do a full clinical checkup with the patient, look at their records and have an ongoing role in the care of that patient,” said Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance Executive Director Matthew Allen, who helped author the ballot initiative.

The Council made a minor change in the regulations to refer medical marijuana treatment centers as “a registered marijuana dispensary.”  Council member and UMass Amherst administrator Dr. John Cunningham explains why he proposed the amendment.

“Marijuana is a lot of things but it’s not medical in its nature to my knowledge,” said Cunningham. “Personal concerns exist but that’s not part of the business here.”

Up to 35 marijuana dispensaries can be licensed in Massachusetts. They’ll determine the price of the drug. But they must first go through a vigorous application and selection process.  Department of Public Health Interim Commissioner Lauren Smith believes they’ll likely open next year.

“I was ‘guestimating’ if you will that it would take months to be able to get through all of those necessary steps so that I wouldn’t expect a dispensary to be open prior to the end of the year,” said Smith.

The regulations also raise the income level that allows patients to qualify for discounted marijuana or an application to grow their own plants at home. Those patients must earn an income that is less than 300 percent of the federal poverty line.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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