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This past Valentine’s Day I made an appearance at the Department of Health’s listening sessions on the development of medical marijuana regulations held at Roxbury Community College.
If you’re late to the game, Massachusetts voters approved Ballot Question 3, Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana. This became law on the first day of 2013, and allows qualifying patients to obtain and use medical marijuana.
At this listening session I saw people from all walks of life coming together for a discussion of medical marijuana. Among attendees were doctors, lawyers, teachers, policemen, cancer survivors, and those suffering nervous system diseases.
Proponents of all sides were concerned about the list of qualifying ailments for treatment. Arguments supported the use of a strict exclusive list to avoid the headache teens who want quality pot. There were arguments supporting the abolishment of a restrictive list as well, with the supporters stating that the determining factor should be the doctor, not the state.
The regulation of the drug from plant to patient being consolidated to one entity under a single roof was an expressed request from both patients and those on the industry side as well, citing the presence of mold spores and micro-toxins, as well as consistent strain harvest as important factors.
There were also a number of concerns expressed about the drug’s continued exposure to youth, especially from those in the South Boston. Tara Doran of South Boston Action for Substance Abuse Prevention said there is already a substance abuse problem there.
Solutions to this issue were addressed by a number of speakers. Suggestions included expiring photo-identification cards, packaging not appealing to children, as well as restrictions on advertisements. This would be a similar operation to the coffee shops in Amsterdam, which do not advertise cannabis in public.
A family lawyer and representative of Law Enforcement vs. Prohibition pointed out that under regulation, it would actually be more difficult for youth to score pot, which currently is easier for underage kids to get than cigarettes or alcohol.
Stalemates occurred when it came to home cultivation of plants. The industry-minded were against the allowance of home-growing plants, even against those who qualify for “hardship cultivation,” for people who are house-bound.
While a lot of the discussion revolved around the industry side of things or efforts to keep surplus pot off the black market, there were individuals there who were indeed focused on the medical and therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant. Even the therapeutic benefits in gardening were highlighted in the support for home-growing rights.
There were also statements on the limits of the 60-day supply, as well as mediums of ingestion.