Six Days from Medical Marijuana Dispensary License Announcement, Patients Express Excitement

Massachusetts program bringing legitimacy to marijuana as medicine

CONTACT: Matthew J. Allen, Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, 508-410-1547, mjpatients@gmail.com

BOSTON- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is expected to announce recipients of medical marijuana dispensary licenses on January 30. About 100 applications were submitted to DPH at the end of November; between 14 and 35 licenses will be issued next week.

Medical marijuana patients are excited that dispensaries are one step closer to opening their doors. Peter Hayashi, a former clinical neuropsychologist and member of the Harvard Medical School Faculty until 2000, has been disabled by severe neuropathic (nerve) pain since 2001. Dr. Hayashi suffers from allodynia, a condition in which normal sensations cause pain. Currently available prescription medications are generally ineffective in this condition.

“I’m excited about this benchmark — I’m one step closer to having safe access to my medicine. But this progress also means a lot for patients across the nation,” said Dr. Hayashi. “The system here in Massachusetts is going to bring legitimacy to the issue because it includes controls like requiring doctors to take educational courses and independent laboratory testing of the medicine. Ultimately this will make the medical community more comfortable with the issue, which in turn will benefit patients.”

“I’ve been impressed with the steps that DPH has taken to execute a transparent process and develop regulations that address concerns from an array of stakeholders,” said Matthew J. Allen, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA). “Given the number of applicants and the thoughtful approach the agency has taken so far, I’m confident that the final pool of licensees will represent those best qualified to meet patient needs.”

MPAA is a coalition of medical marijuana patients, their family members, medical professionals, and public health groups advocating for safe access to medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. MPAA helped bring the medical marijuana ballot initiative to the voters, and has since been working to ensure that patients have a voice in implementation

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158 Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applications Proceed to Phase 2

Patients still hopeful but still suffering

BOSTON- Today the state Department of Public Health (DPH) released a list of the medical marijuana dispensary hopefuls that successfully passed Phase 1 of the application process.  While implementation of the medical marijuana law is proceeding on schedule, it cannot be completed quickly enough for patients suffering from serious health conditions such as ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, paralysis and severe chronic pain.

“I need access to medical marijuana because it eliminates pain and muscle spasms more effectively and with less side effects than medications like oxycodone and prescription muscle relaxants.  Without medical marijuana, my leg spasms are so bad I can be thrown from my wheel chair at any moment,” said Jerry Smith, a paralysis patient from Assonet.  “Local officials should welcome dispensaries into their communities because patients like me need this resource.  Right now most of us continue to suffer without safe access.”

“State level regulations are extensive, promulgated with both patient access and public safety in mind,” said Matthew J. Allen, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA), which backed the initiative.  “There is adequate time for municipalities to thoughtfully consider issues such as appropriate siting for the dispensaries, and the competitive application process ensures only the most qualified organizations make it through.  We hope the process continues to move along quickly at both the state and local levels for the sake of patients who need their medicine.”

Regulations for registered marijuana dispensaries (RMDs) require them to follow strict security plans, require seed to sale monitoring, restrict signage, and prohibit of on site medical marijuana use.  Only patients with a doctor’s recommendation and an identification card issued by the state will be permitted to enter dispensaries.

About 140 individual non-profits submitted applications, some vying to operate more than one dispensary.  A total of 181 applications for individual RMDs were submitted; DPH announced 158 of the applications may move forward.  Regulations require non-profits that proceed through Phase 1 to submit their Phase 2 application within 45 days of receiving an invitation to proceed to the next phase.  RMD applicants are encouraged to demonstrate local support as part of the process.  The medical marijuana law requires the state to register between 14 and 35 dispensaries to operate by next January.  The list of Phase 1 results can be viewed here:  http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/medical-marijuana/registered-marijuana-dispensary-application-process.html

 

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State Accepts Medical Marijuana Dispensary Phase 1 Applications

Patients one step closer to safely accessing their medicine

BOSTON – This morning the Department of Public Health (DPH) began accepting Phase 1 applications from non-profits applying for registrations to operated medical marijuana dispensaries. Applications will be accepted from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm at the DPH office in Boston.

“With the close of Phase 1 application period, we have reached yet another significant benchmark in the implementation of the medical marijuana law,” said Matthew J. Allen, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, “The department continues to demonstrate a commitment to patient needs by moving forward quickly and thoughtfully with the process.”

“At this rate, dispensaries should be registered to operate by January 2014, if not before,” Allen continued, “Today patients are one step closer to safely accessing their medicine.”

MPAA is a coalition of medical marijuana patients, their family members, medical professionals, and public health groups advocating for safe access to medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. MPAA helped bring the medical marijuana ballot initiative to the voters, and has since been working to ensure that patients have a voice in implementation. The group organized over 100 patients and advocates to participate in the extensive public hearing process that established regulations for the program.

The medical marijuana ballot initiative was approved by over 63% of Massachusetts voters in 2012 and requires the state to approve between 14 and 35 dispensaries where medical marijuana patients suffering from debilitating health conditions may acquire their medicine. Regulations that went into effect in May created a two phase application process administered by DPH. The department has set September 18 as the tentative date for announcement of applicants qualified to proceed to Phase 2.

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State Opens Application Process for Registered Marijuana Dispensaries

Advocates hopeful dispensaries will open by next year

BOSTON – Today the Department of Public Health (DPH) opened the application process for non-profit corporations seeking to become registered medical marijuana dispensaries.

“We are pleased to see the department moving forward quickly to get medical marijuana dispensaries up and running,” said Matthew J. Allen, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA). “In some other states the process has taken years, so the fact that DPH has started accepting applications just over two months after regulations went into effect demonstrates a commitment within the department to meeting patient needs.”

MPAA is a coalition of medical marijuana patients, their family members, medical professionals, and public health groups advocating for safe access to medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. MPAA helped bring the medical marijuana ballot initiative to the voters, and has since been working to ensure that patients have a voice in implementation. The group organized over 100 patients and advocates to participate in the extensive public hearing process that established regulations for the program.

Under regulations issued by DPH, dispensaries will face strict restrictions on signage, will be forbidden from advertising, must have comprehensive security and seed-to-sale monitoring plans in place, and may not allow medical marijuana use on the premises. Unlike other states, where dispensaries have proliferated by the hundreds, Massachusetts will see no more than 35. Such limits will allow the system to be closely monitored so that safe access to medical marijuana by patients is balanced with safeguards to prevent abuse of the system.

Peter Hayashi is a board member of MPAA, a former clinical neuropsychologist, and was a member of the Harvard Medical School Faculty until 2000. Dr. Hayashi suffers from a condition called allodynia, which causes a type of neuropathic pain resistant to available medications.

“I’m thrilled that the state is on track to allow dispensaries to open by next year. I hope officials at the local level recognize that this is a highly regulated system including controls not seen in other states,” he said. “Dispensaries will provide a needed service to patients like me, while also having a positive effect on local communities.”

To view the application, visit http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/hcq/medical-marijuana/registered-marijuana-dispensary-application-process.html. Completed applications for Phase 1 must be hand-delivered on Thursday, Aug. 22, to the Department of Public Health, 250 Washington Street in Boston.
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Public Health Council Approves Medical Marijuana Regulations

Advocates look forward to next steps

BOSTON – Today the The Public Health Council approved regulations for the medical marijuana program that was supported by voters in 350 out of 351 communities last November. Advocates praised the Department of Public Health (DPH) for its efforts to solicit input from patients and concerned citizens from across the state through a series of Listening Sessions that began in February and concluded in April.

“DPH should be commended on the process it established to hear from hundreds of stakeholders as it crafted the regulations that were approved by the Public Health Council today,” said Matthew J. Allen, director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA). “These regulations demonstrate a dedication to ensuring safe access for patients while including strict controls to prevent misuse of the system. Regulations require that doctors complete a full clinical check up before issuing a recommendation, and recommendations expire after one year. No use of medical marijuana will be allowed on MMTCs premises, and they and will face restrictions on advertising and signage.”

MPAA is a coalition of medical marijuana patients, their family members, medical professionals, and public health groups advocating for safe access to medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. MPAA helped bring the medical marijuana ballot initiative to the voters, and has since been working to ensure that patients have a voice in implementation.

Peter Hayashi, a board member of the organization, is one of the many advocates who testified at the six sessions held by DPH. He is a former clinical neuropsychologist and was a member of the Harvard Medical School Faculty until 2000. Dr. Hayashi suffers from condition called allodynia, which causes a type of neuropathic pain resistant to available medications.

“This is an improvement on the first draft. I’m glad the regulations have increased the financial hardship income threshold.” he said. “This means that more patients will be eligible to receive their medicine from treatment centers at discounted rates, which is very important since medical marijuana is not covered by insurance.”

The regulations approved today will go into effect on May 24. They allow the department to establish a competitive application process for non-profits seeking certifications that will permit them to operate. DPH is required to certify at least 14, but no more than 35, medical marijuana treatment centers to open by January, 2014.

Patients Ask for Improvements to Draft Regulations, Praise Department of Public Health

Advocates Gather to Support Successful Implementation of the Medical Marijuana Law

CONTACT: Matthew J. Allen, Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, mjpatients@gmail.com, 508.410.1547

BOSTON – Today the Department of Public Health (DPH) held its final public hearing on recently released draft regulations for the medical marijuana program. Patients gathered in Boston to voice their concerns.

“MPAA is very appreciative for the department’s efforts, especially their commitment to input from patients and others,” said Matthew J. Allen, director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA). “DPH is very close to designing the best-in-nation program, and we are hopeful they will get there in the final regulations.” MPAA filed five pages of comments on particular aspects of the regulations.  

MPAA is a coalition of medical marijuana patients, their family members, medical professionals, and public health groups advocating for safe access to medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. MPAA helped bring the medical marijuana ballot initiative to the voters, and has since been working to ensure that patients have a voice in implementation. Many members commended the department for the steps they have taken to enact the law.

The New England Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NECCS) submitted written testimony. “We are thankful that DPH is moving forward quickly but thoughtfully with implementation, so that cancer patients and survivors can have access to an effective treatment, but there are a few issues in the draft regulations that could restrict access,” said Linda Brantley, President of NECCS, in a statement, “We are concerned that debilitating has been defined too narrowly, as medical marijuana has proven effective as a preventative measure for people struggling with nausea from chemotherapy, and from some of the after effects of cancer as well, including chronic pain.”

Scott Murphy, a disabled combat veteran who spoke at the Boston hearing, echoed this concern. “I want to make sure that medical marijuana is available to my fellow service  members coming back from deployment who suffer from PTSD and other combat related  conditions. The decision about appropriate medical use should be up to doctors and patients, not restricted through regulations.” 

The department is expected to make changes to the draft regulations based on the feedback they received today. The final draft will then be sent to the Public Health Council on May 8th. If approved by the council, regulations will go into effect on May 25.

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Medical Marijuana Moving Forward

 
The people of Massachusetts have spoken and we are ready to begin crafting regulation and oversight procedures. We look forward to working closely with patients and the state to ensure an implementation process that will make the Massachusetts medical marijuana program the safest and most secure medical treatment program in the country.

Representatives from Healthcare, Labor and Law Enforcement Across Massachusetts Support Medical Marijuana Initiative Question 3

 
Massachusetts Nurses Association, Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses, SEIU 1199, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, New England Coalition of Cancer Survivorship and AIDS Action Committee and Hampshire County Sheriff among those to endorse Question 3

(Boston) – A broad cross section of healthcare, cancer and labor organizations across Massachusetts endorsed Question 3 today that will provide medical marijuana to suffering patients that deserve compassionate care. The Massachusetts Nurses Association, the Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses, SEIU 1199, Massachusetts Chapter of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, the New England Coalition of Cancer Survivorship, AIDS Action Committee, AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts, National Chronic Fatigue and Immune Deficiency Syndrome Foundation, ACLU of Massachusetts, and Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance are among those groups whom have endorsed Question 3.

“Nurses are on the front lines of healthcare every day, taking care of patients and their families,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “We understand the unique benefits medical marijuana has on a myriad of different conditions. We encourage voters to have compassion for patients and vote yes on Question 3.”

Linda Brantley, President of the New England Coalition for Cancer Survivorship agrees. “NECCS supports legalization for medical use so that those suffering who need it most can get what they need without fear of breaking the law. We know there are many patients and physicians who cannot voice their support for this for fear of repercussion. For us, Ballot Question 3 is all about the patients. We know people who have been able to enjoy relief from chronic pain, nausea, sleeplessness and other side effects of cancer treatment by using marijuana. NECCS believes that doctors should have this among their tools for those patients they believe it will help. It should be a patient and physician decision. When faced with the choice for a loved one, colleague or friend, we argue that few would be able to deny those they care about the treatment option. Voters need to consider this ballot initiative through that lens.,” Brantley said.

“Healthcare workers across the Massachusetts recognize the need to show compassion for patients suffering from debilitating diseases,” said Veronica Turner, the Executive Vice-President of SEIU Local 1199. “We urge Massachusetts residents to vote yes on Question 3. It is time that patients have safe access to medicine as those in seventeen other states.”

Massachusetts’ prohibition of medical marijuana means that patients and their physicians are unable to consider the full spectrum of medical treatments available. In providing compassionate care, it should be up to the doctor and the patient to decide the best course of treatment. For many patients suffering from debilitating illness, medical marijuana has proven highly effective as an appetite stimulant, an option to minimize nausea and vomiting, a muscle relaxant and an alternative to heavy prescription painkillers. The Massachusetts medical marijuana initiative is based on best practices of seventeen other states and the District of Columbia, including our neighbors of Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

“A stroke forced me to retire as a Massachusetts State Police Trooper that left me in chronic debilitating pain. To help ease the pain I was prescribed pharmaceuticals that left me lethargic and unable to care for my daughters,” said Karen Hawkes. “With my background in law enforcement, I was extremely hesitant to use medical marijuana, but after doing a lot of research I decided I should try it. Medical marijuana is the only medicine that effectively alleviates my pain. Now I am able to be active in my church, involved in my daughters’ girls scout troop, bring my kids to their music lessons, and do volunteer work as a family. My kids have their mom back.”

Patients with debilitating conditions, such as cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions as determined in writing by a patient’s physician will qualify to participate in the medical marijuana program.

This initiative requires a doctor writing recommendations have a bona fide relationship with their patient and that the state verifies all recommendations. A patient would be able to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of state regulated non-profit treatment centers. The petition creates a safe and well regulated framework for patients to access medical marijuana under the care of their doctor. There will be a maximum of 35 treatment centers in the state, with no more than five treatment centers in any one county.

The Massachusetts initiative will be the safest medical marijuana law in the country. The law would create a new felony for anyone who defrauds the medical marijuana system with a penalty of up to five years in prison for distribution. A person who now faces a mere civil fine for possession of less than an ounce could face a criminal conviction and a jail sentence if they defraud the medical marijuana system.

“As Sheriff of Hampshire County for the past 28 years I am committed to the law and I support the proposed medical marijuana initiative in Massachusetts,” said Sheriff Robert Garvey. “I have seen people suffer from cancer and other debilitating diseases and strongly believe they should have access to every treatment option available. I am not a doctor, but I don’t think I should be denying a drug that overwhelmingly has a positive impact on patients going through horrible ordeals. This is clearly a medical issue, where the best course of treatment is determined by a physician and their patient, not a legal issue that should be determined by me and other law enforcement agents.”

Nationally, the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of HIV Medicine, the American Bar Association, American College of Physicians, American Medical Students Association, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, California Medical Association, HIV Medicine Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Medical Society of the State of New York, and the Rhode Island Medical Society are among the groups that support access to medical marijuana for patients under the supervision of a doctor.

Medical marijuana saves lives and patients across Massachusetts are suffering. To hear their stories and learn more about why residents should vote Yes on Question 3, please visit our website http://www.compassionforpatients.com/.

Media Inquires
Jennifer Manley
339-927-2277
jmanley@deweysquare.com

If No on Question 3 Will Mislead You About a Poll, What Else Aren’t They Telling the Truth About?

 
(Boston) – Vote No on Question 3 yesterday claimed that support for the ballot issue had dropped by 12 points. That is false.

The opponents of Question 3 compared a poll by PPP released on October 11 with a poll issued by the Boston Globe released on September 29. That is deceptive and wrong.

In fact when you compare the PPP poll from September 18 to the October 11 poll by the same firm there is a difference of three points. Support in September was 60%. Today it is 57%. Statistically the same support today as it was last month. That is a fact.

So given the deception practiced by the opponents of Question 3 what else aren’t they telling the truth about? A lot.

No on 3 claims that marijuana is not medicine because it must be smoked. Fact most patients administer medical marijuana through a vaporizer which releases the therapeutic ingredients of medical marijuana. Patients may also administer the medicine through a tincture.

No on 3 claims that the proposed law will lead to a spike in youth use of marijuana. Fact there is no correlation between medical marijuana laws and increases in youth use. The studies are clear: (Medical Marijuana: A Status Report, Harvard Catalyst, 2011, http://catalyst.harvard.edu/pdf/chirp/Medical_Marijuana_Report.pdf, and Medical Marijuana Laws and Teen Marijuana Use, Institute for the Study of Labor, 2012, http://ftp.iza.org/dp6592.pdf).

No on 3 claims that Massachusetts will see an explosion of hundreds of treatment centers like California and Colorado. Fact Question 3 regulations insure there will be no more than 35 treatment centers across the entire state.

It will also be the safest medical marijuana law in the country and makes it a felony for anyone who obtains marijuana by defrauding the medical marijuana system for distribution. Please see this infographic comparing state medical marijuana laws: http://www.compassionforpatients.com/state-comparison-infographic/.

No on 3 claims that allowing physicians to recommend medical marijuana for conditions other than cancer, HIV, or terminal illnesses is a “loophole.” Fact clinical studies have proven that patients with conditions other than cancer, HIV, or terminal illnesses can benefit from medical marijuana. Hear directly from patients suffering from conditions such as paralysis, allodynia, cyclic vomiting syndrome and debilitating pain who clearly have benefited from medical marijuana – www.compassionforpatients.com. The initiative also requires that doctors writing recommendations for medical marijuana have a bona fide relationship with their patients and that the state verify all recommendations for any patient.

So when it comes to the truth the opponents of Question 3 simply can’t be trusted.

And when people get the facts about medical marijuana they will support Yes on Question 3 because they know it saves lives and that patients deserve compassion and access to the medicine that provides them relief.

Media Inquires
Jennifer Manley
617-367-9929
jmanley@deweysquare.com

Medical Marijuana Saves Lives

 
Medical Marijuana saves lives and Question 3 is about providing chronically ill patients with safe access to it. It is the reason Steve Saling, an ALS patient is on our website: He is a real patient who needs medical marijuana to alleviate the excruciating symptoms of his condition. Anyone who states that Question 3 is anything other than providing patients with safe access to Medical Marijuana isn’t telling the truth. And they are also inflicting more pain and suffering upon those who need it and our compassion.

That is why we want every voter in Massachusetts to be provided with the information they need to make a decision about this issue. We believe that when voters review the facts they will have compassion for patients who are suffering from debilitating conditions, as they have in 17 other states, including neighboring states of Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine, and vote YES on #3. We encourage voters to visit our site www.compassionforpatients.com for information about this important issue.

The only people who speak for the Committee for Compassionate Medicine are those patients, their family members, medical practitioners and law enforcement officials who support this effort. Any attempt to portray others as doing so is a desperate attempt to deny people in need safe access to medicine.