MASSACHUSETTS: OUTLINES REGS FOR MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health unveiledThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
regulations yesterday that allow "patients with glaucoma, asthma
or nausea from cancer treatment to use marijuana legally."
BOSTON GLOBE reports that the regulations would implement a law,
"quietly approved" by the state Legislature in August, that "is
designed to protect patients from criminal prosecution if they
are certified by the state to use marijuana for legitimate
medical purposes." Under the proposal unveiled by the health
department, a three-doctor panel appointed by state Public Health
Commissioner David Mulligan "would screen individual patients'
applications for certification." Mulligan said, "There will be
some opponents who will say we're succumbing to the drug culture.
But we shouldn't enforce the drug laws by making the ill patients
suffer." He added, "If this reduces pain and enables people to
keep food down, can we reasonably withhold it?" (Knox, 1/21).
Gov. William Weld (R) said, "I do think marijuana is a gateway
drug, and you don't want to send mixed messages. But in the
medicinal context, I just don't have a problem with it at all."
BOSTON GLOBE reports that state officials hope to gain approval
of the plan from the state Public Health Council next week (Knox,
1/22). BOSTON HERALD reports that the regulations must also
undergo a series of public hearings, but could be finalized as
early as May (Ryan, 1/22).
STATE STANCE: GLOBE reports that the law "challenges the
Clinton administration's opposition to the medical use of
marijuana" and "attempts to circumvent a recent threat by
President Clinton's drug policy chief, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, to
strip doctors of their licenses to prescribe drugs and even to
prosecute them criminally if they prescribe marijuana." With
yesterday's proposal, the state is "joining California and
Arizona in asserting states' rights to liberalize the use of
marijuana as a medicine" (Knox, 1/21).
GROW YOUR OWN: State health officials said Tuesday that
they "will seek to grow their own medical-grade marijuana if the
federal government refuses to supply the drug from its own
heavily guarded patch in Mississippi," BOSTON GLOBE reports.
Weld said, "I don't really care whether it came from a federal or
state source." He added that the marijuana "should be (from) an
official source so you wouldn't get street marijuana"
(Knox, 1/22). Weld also said yesterday that he wants to expand
"the ailments for which marijuana could be legally prescribed to
include AIDS, multiple sclerosis, lupus and arthritis," according
to the BOSTON HERALD. The current law allows marijuana use only
for glaucoma, asthma and patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Weld said the public health department is "researching whether
the law can be expanded further to include other illnesses."
Weld said, "I'd like to see the net as broad as possible. I do
think you need to have scientific evidence" (1/22).