EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 1, 2013

State pledges tough medical pot rules

BOSTON — State Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy) had hoped to postpone implementation of the medical marijuana law passed by voters in November, but he said he sees no route to push the timetable back.

“There was some hope, but a lot of things would have had to aligned,” Keenan said during a recess in end-of-session legislating yesterday.

Department of Public Health officials have indicated they want more time to implement the law, which will allow doctors’ notes to enable patients’ use of medical marijuana. Keenan said he would attempt to address the issue next session.

“We’ll take it up after the first of the year,” Keenan said.

Keenan had previously said he might try to amend an end-of-session bill to include a delay. The law is set to take effect Jan. 1.

After voters approved the medical marijuana ballot law, state public health officials released a statement indicating they would work in the “coming months” with health care and public safety officials “to develop smart and balanced policies and procedures.”

The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services yesterday issued the following statement: “The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is in the process of developing regulations that will allow qualifying patients with certain medical conditions to obtain and use medical marijuana. Under the ballot measure approved by voters, DPH has until May 1, 2013 to issue regulations and DPH will not issue any registration cards or allow any medical marijuana dispensaries to open until the regulations are in effect.”

The department also stated it is working with public safety officials, the medical community and community officials to develop the regulations. Under the ballot measure, doctors can “act as a medical marijuana registration card.”

“Similarly, the law allows a qualifying patient to cultivate their own limited supply of marijuana during this period,” the statement reads.

— State House News Service

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