Arizona Gets Sued Over Scarcity of Rural Medical Dispensaries
by Kat Helgeson
In many states, patients have to pay substantial fees for participating in legal, medical cannabis programs. Massachusetts is one of those states. Prior to a recent change in laws, patients were required to pay an annual $50 fee to obtain and renew their patient registration card. For many patients who are in low-income families, being able to pay this fee was an extra burden that shouldn’t have to be.
In September the state Cannabis Control Commission adopted new policy changes that eliminated this required fee. This came with great applause and a sigh of relief for many patients throughout the state. The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance spearheaded this initiative. Chairman Steven J. Hoffman of the Cannabis Control Commission stated the following regarding this change.
“Throughout the regulatory process, the Commission relied on the expertise of colleagues and staff who have been on the ground implementing the legal marketplace as well as the valuable experiences and feedback of patients, consumers, residents, and businesses. As a result, the new regulations bring expansions and improvements to the adult and medical use of marijuana programs that will bolster public health and safety, promote access to and participation in the industry, and support small businesses in our state.”
This isn’t the only significant change that has come to the Massachusetts medical cannabis program this year. In July, changes went into effect that allows patients to receive their doctor recommendation and then immediately be able to visit a state-licensed dispensary to obtain cannabinoid-based medicines.
While patients are still required to file for a permanent card, this change in policy eliminates the sometimes long wait periods that patients face between the time they receive their recommendation and when they receive their patient card in the mail. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission spearheaded this initiative.
Other great news coming from the state include the recent approval of cannabis delivery services and canna cafes! This change will allow patients to have cannabis delivered directly to their doorstep. A benefit that we expect patients will take advantage of as traveling to a dispensary is hard for many.
This two-year social consumption pilot program will allow for licenses to be issued to minority business owners and individuals from low-income areas of the state. As you can imagine, though, there are some regulations and rules regarding what is and isn’t allowed.
Canna cafes can only be open, and deliveries can only take place between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., there are no deliveries allowed to college dorms, limitations have been placed on purchases of edibles, and smokable cannabis products can only be consumed outdoors are a few of these restrictions.
At this time, Springfield, Somerville, Provincetown, North Adams, and Amherst have agreed to take part in the pilot program. Having a place to purchase and consume cannabis legally is something that the majority of all medical and recreational programs lack at this time. Canna cafes will allow people to relax and socialize with likeminded individuals and are something most consumers and patients will take advantage of.
Speaking of patients, let’s take a look at the stats of just how big the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana program is. As reported in the “Medical Use of Marijuana Program monthly dashboards” provided by mass.gov, there are 59,288 patients registered in the state program along with 7,005 active caregivers, and 66,945 active healthcare provider certifications.
These stats are as of May 31st, 2019. As you can imagine, all of the recent changes listed above are great news for the nearly 60,000 patients that have chosen cannabis as their medicine in the state of Massachusetts. Are you a resident of the state and looking to obtain your medical cannabis recommendation? If so check out the services offered by Veriheal today!
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