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NEW: MA Med Society President Issues Statement on Pot Dispensaries

Friday, January 31, 2014

 

President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, Ronald Dunlap, M.D. released a statement Friday in reaction to the January 31 release of the list of medical marijuana dispensaries by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Dunlap's Statement:

“The Massachusetts Department of Public Health today announces the list of licensees for medical marijuana dispensaries in the Commonwealth, bringing patients another step closer to using marijuana as “medicine.”

As the state opens this new chapter in public health, the Massachusetts Medical Society must remind patients of the Commonwealth that there is insufficient scientific information about the safety of marijuana when used for “medicinal” purposes. Patients should remember that marijuana lacks the rigorous testing of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration; that claims for its effectiveness have not been scientifically proven; and, that it poses health risks of toxins and cognitive impairment, the last condition being especially risky for young patients.

Despite voter approval, despite the hard and good work of the DPH in developing regulations and overseeing the process of licensing, the Massachusetts model does not contain any provisions for dosage, administering the drug, or other basic elements that would be contained in a prescription for another medication that has gone through rigorous clinical trials.

We are further concerned about the growth of “certification centers,” dealing only with patients seeking marijuana. They appear to sidestep the DPH regulation of an “ongoing physician-patient relationship” in the general course of medical practice as a requirement for certification. Implications for occupational health and safety are other questions raised by marijuana use.

We are gratified and are supportive of the efforts that the Massachusetts DPH has made to direct the law and develop regulations that should minimize abuse and recreational use.

We are, however, treading into new territory in Massachusetts with medical marijuana, and it will be critical to oversee and monitor the work of dispensaries to ensure they act consistently within the law and regulations. We would not like to see them become the kind of retailers that have created the skepticism about and non-adherence to programs in other states such as California and Colorado. Because this program directly affects the health of patients in Massachusetts, physicians will continue to watch its rollout carefully, to ensure that the focus remains on patient care and patient safety.”

Ronald Dunlap, M.D. President, Massachusetts Medical Society, January 31, 2014

 

Related Slideshow: Massachusetts Emergency Care Report Card

The American College of Emergency Physicians released America's Emergency Care Environment report for 2014 in January, issuing report cards for each state in the U.S. Massachusetts ranked second overall - see the Bay State's report card grades and highlights in the slides below.

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Access to Emergency Care Grades

2014 Grade: B

2014 National Rank: 4

2009 Grade: B

2009 National Rank: 3

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Access to Emergency Care Highlights

* Board-certified emergency physicians per 100,000 population: 14.2

* Emergency physicians per 100,000 population: 19.7

* Neurosurgeons per 100,000 population: 2.6

* Orthopedists and hand surgeon specialists per 100,000 population: 12.7

* Plastic surgeons per 100,000 population: 3.3

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Quality + Patient Safety Environment Grades

2014 Grade: B+

2014 National Rank: 5

2009 Grade: A

2009 National Rank: 6

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Quality + Safety Environment Highlights

* Funding for quality improvement within the EMS system: No

* Funded state EMS medical director: Yes

* Emergency medicine residents per 1 million population: 33.1

* Adverse event reporting required: Yes

* Percent of counties with E-911 capability: 100%

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Medical Liability Grades

2014 Grade: D-

2014 National Rank: 40

2009 Grade: D

2009 National Rank: 33

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Medical Liability Highlights

* Lawyers per 100,000 population: 24.5

* Lawyers per physician: 0.5

* Lawyers per emergency physician: 12.4

* Malpractice award payments per 100,000 population: 1.4

* Average malpractice award payments: $519,991

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Public Health + Injury Prevention Grades

2014 Grade: A

2014 National Rank: 1

2009 Grade: A

2009 National Rank: 1

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Public Health + Injury Prevention Highlights

* Traffic fatalities per 100,000 population: 3.8

* Bicyclist fatalities per 100,000 population: 1.9

* Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population: 2.1

* Percent of traffic fatalities alcohol related: 39%

* Front occupant restraint use: 73.2%

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Disaster Preparedness Grades

2014 Grade: C

2014 National Rank: 20

2009 Grade: B

2009 National Rank: 19

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Disaster Preparedness Highlights

* Per capita federal disaster preparedness funds: $6.54

* ESF-8 plan shared with all EMS and essential hospital personnel: Yes

* Emergency physician input into the state planning process: Yes

* Drills, exercises conducted with hospital personnel, equipment, facilities per hospital: 0.2

* Public health and emergency physician input during ESF-8 response: Yes

 
 

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