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NEW: MA Medical Society Cites Concerns on Medical Marijuana Law

Thursday, February 14, 2013


The Massachusetts Medical Society submitted written comments on the medical marijuana law to the Department of Public Health (DPH) on Thursday, as the department conducted its second “listening session” on the subject at Roxbury Community College in Boston after visiting Worcester on Wednesday.

The sessions are designed to receive public input on the implementation of the law prior to the drafting of legislation, and the Worcester session attracted a standing-room-only crowd. Official public hearings on proposed DPH regulations will take place at a later date.

The Medical Society's comments were based on its policy adopted last December, following the passage of Question 3 on the Bay State ballot in November.

“The society remains opposed to the recreational use of marijuana,” MMS said in today’s comments, “but has adopted policies which should help the Department in its efforts to create a regulatory framework that supports responsible implementation of the new law.”

In today’s comments, the Medical Society expressed several concerns related to the provisions of the referendum:

  • that the definition of a bona fide physician-patient relationship should be established by the state Board of Registration in Medicine;
  • that the term “licensed physician” should be limited to include only those physicians with an active license from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, a Massachusetts Department of Public Health Controlled Substances registration, and a federal Drug Enforcement Agency registration;
  • that the language in the referendum question is overly broad in its authorizations for certifying a debilitating medical condition as “other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient's physician” and rather should be based on the patient’s diagnosis and the physician’s assessment that the patient’s symptoms of spasticity, neuropathic pain or other symptoms that are not optimally controlled with conventional medical therapy;
  • that physicians who choose to provide certifications to patients follow the recommendations of the American Society on Addiction Medicine on the professional tenets of proper patient care;
  • that patient certifications become part of the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program; and
  • that regulations take into account the implications of the medical use of marijuana on occupational health and safety.

The Society raised a number of other questions that need consideration, including treatment dosages, the duration of certifications, the amount of an appropriate supply, non-profit criteria for dispensaries, and if licensed individuals may participate in the certification process without concern for their licenses.

The Medical Society concluded its written remarks stating that “The MMS will provide detailed testimony during upcoming regulatory hearings and will address the law in greater detail at that time. We support the efforts of the Department to engage in listening sessions to help clarify interpretations of the referendum among a wide variety of parties.”


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