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Worcester Officials Call for Local Controls With Medical Marijuana

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Officials from the Worcester Division of Public Health (WDPH) asked the state's Department of Public Health (DPH) to give local authorities the ability to institute local bylaws and regulations in relation to the Commonwealth's new medical marijuana law.

WDPH Director Derek Brindisi and Acting Commissioner Dr. Michael Hirsh both offered testimony during a 3-hour, standing room only, DPH "listening session" at the Worcester Public Library Wednesday afternoon, the first of three such meetings to be held across the Bay State as officials work to develop regulations for the implementation of the voter-approved medical marijuana by May 1 of this year.

Brindisi said that Worcester was specifically requesting that the DPH recognize and explicitly state that municipalities and local boards of health can impose their own local bylaws and regulations under the statewide regulations. He also said that the WDPH has serious concerns about marijuana edibles and requested that they be regulated on either the state or local level.

John Kelly, commissioner of Worcester's Inspectional Services, asked that the state DPH explicitly recognize the rights of municipalities to regulate the siting and zoning of medical marijuana dispensaries within their local borders.

Dr. Hirsh said that there have been strong concerns within the medical community about prescribing marijuana without any testing to determine appropriate dosages, with cannabis not having gone through the types of trials and testing other prescription drugs are subject to.

District 2 City Councilor Philip Palmieri was also in attendance and offered testimony, saying, "One of the other fundamental issues [of the medical marijuana law] is 'where.'"

He noted that a number of communities in the Commonwealth are seeking to restrict the siting of medical marijuana dispensaries within their borders due to perceived public safety or public health risks.

"Those ideologues are misdirected," Palmieri said, adding that the patients who need medical marijuana in order to be well often get lost in the discussion about how the new law will be implemented.

Councilor-At-Large Konstantina Lukes, who has put forth several orders with the City Council to restrict or delay the siting of any dispensaries in Worcester, attended the listening session as well.

In addition to the conflict between state and federal law posed by medical marijuana, Lukes said the state is trying to set up an infrastructure in just a few months that would be in competition with a long-established and successful growing and distribution system for illegal marijuana that has been in place for decades.

Irene Chiarvalloti, chair of the Worcester Property Owners Association, said landlords could find themselves in a difficult position under the new medical marijuana law. Property owners can be held responsible for drug-related activity on their property, regardless of it the drugs are medically prescribed, up to and including losing the property itself. At the same time, landlords cannot discriminate against medical marijuana patients who are seeking housing.

"We're in a Catch-22," said Chiarvalloti.


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Humphrey Ploughjogger

Rather than quibbling about regulations for medical marijuana, it is time to end the state’s prohibition that never should have been with a law that treats the plant and its products like any other agricultural commodity, punishing only the selling or gifting of marijuana to children.

When I say any other agricultural commodity, think herbs like thyme, sold by weight, on scales certified accurate by the Sealer of Weights and Measures, and subject to the warranty of merchantability.

Of course, the profits of those engaged in the commerce of cannabis would be subject to income taxation, and the activities of that commerce take place in a manner in accordance with other generally applicable law.

It is fiscally irresponsible, unwise and unreasonable to impose “strict” regulations upon the cultivation of a plant that was, until crony capitalists hijacked our legislatures to eliminate the competition, valued for its nutritious seeds, strong fiber, medicinal and entheogenic (“generating the divine within”) qualities from before the dawn of agriculture. A plant that scientists discovered in the first third of the 20th century could be a green resource in the place of fossil carbons and trees.

Undoubtedly, prohibitionists will rant about the supposed dangers of complying with the Constitution, but their “reefer madness” is a delusion. They may be well-intentioned, but they reject the self-evident truth at the heart of our constitutions that we are all created equal and endowed with the right to live our lives as we choose, so long as our choices are not the cause of injury to others.

Stephen Quist

the people have voted overwhelmingly to implement medical marijuana and there are those that, as usual, disregard the will of the people and their votes....putting up false pretenses and sounding false alarms is like chicken little waiting for the sky to fall

Stephen Quist

all the bylaws and roadblocks will not matter when people get their own prescription and then can grow their own meds in their own homes.....all we are getting from lukes is the usual naysayer contrairian sky is falling usual MO........why would lukes even care what the voters vote and pass? kape kod konnie believes she and only she knows better.....talk about arrogance and a complete disregard for our democratic principals and form of government......lukes would make a great city councilor in Syria under Assad........

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