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Industry Group to Call for Tough Regulations on Medical Marijuana at Worcester Hearing

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

 

The Coalition for Responsible Patient Care (CRPC), a medical marijuana industry group, will lay out a regulatory framework for the budding industry through testimony at a Department of Public Health hearing on the new law in Worcester today.

"In order for Massachusetts to create a sustainable medical marijuana industry, we must create a system that strikes the right balance between patient access and public safety," said Rob Hunt, chairman of the CRPC.

The coalition, which includes members from a wide variety of backgrounds, such a laboratory work, hydroponics and medical marijuana industries in other states, has three major components in its regulatory framework: mandatory independent lab test, a medical marijuana enforcement division and seed-to-sale monitoring of medication.

According to the CRPC, mandatory lab test would cover issues of quality control and proper handling, as well as determining appropriate dosages, providing patients and doctors alike with additional knowledge about the different strains of medical marijuana and their specific benefits and dosages.

A medical marijuana enforcement division within the DPH and funded through licensing fees could then act as the primary enforcement agency for the industry, serving as liaison between local and state law enforcement and local boards of health.

Finally, seed-to-sale monitoring would track the medical marijuana produced in the state to make sure that it is not being diverted to unauthorized users as it travels from cultivation to the patient. In addition, it would establish guidelines for safe storage and handling procedures.

Hunt characterized the proposed framework as strict and responsible regulations rather than tough regulations.

"This is a very new industry for a lot of states. What we're looking at is how to take best practices from other states," Hunt said.

"The key point is we want to keep the riff raff out. We want sensible regulations."

The CRPC will be at all three public "listening sessions" that the DPH is holding this month to offer testimony that supports establishing a sustainable industry that will put patient access and public safety at the forefront.

State Rep. John Scibak (D-South Hadley) has already filed a bill in consultation with the CRPC that would include create mandatory independent lab testing and such a medical marijuana enforcement division.

Shaleen Title, of the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA) and the nationally-recognized medical marijuana law firm Vicente Sederberg, said she was in agreement with the CRPC proposals because they put the needs of patients first.

"Seed-to-sale monitoring and a medical marijuana enforcement division have worked well in other states," she said.

Title will also offer testimony today in Worcester, where she will urge DPH officials to issue medical marijuana regulations promptly and against considering limiting patient eligibility.

"While we understand the importance and seriousness of the Department’s responsibility to craft regulations which balance a commitment to patients with neighborhood concerns, we cannot forget that there are thousands of sick patients in Massachusetts who are still waiting for safe access to medicine," Title said in a statement.

Under the approved law, the DPH has until May 1 to complete its regulations for the new medical marijuana industry.

In her statement, Title also voiced concerns over the possibility of the DPH limiting the conditions for which patients can qualify for medical marijuana.

"Any such limitation would violate the will of the voters who trusted this decision to qualifying doctors," she said. "Especially having watched this process play out in many other states, we strongly urge the Department not to interfere with the patient-physician relationship which is a cornerstone of the process to discuss, develop and implement the right course of treatment for a patient. No one is more qualified to make medical decisions about marijuana than the patient and his or her physician." 

 

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