department of public health

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Could Be Available To Patients In Early 2015

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Patients in Illinois who qualify under the state's Medical Cannabis Pilot Program could be able to start legally using marijuana early next year, according to program coordinator Bob Morgan, who is a lawyer for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

"Right now, we think it's a good time for patients to be having that conversation with their physicians and their caregivers if they have any interest in participating in the program," Morgan said.

The powerful Joint Committee on Administrative Rules plan to meet in Chicago on Tuesday to discuss the rules to implement the state's medical marijuana program, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

If the committee agrees on the rules, the process to register patients, dispensers and growers can begin.

Patients who are approved by the state as having debilitating medical conditions qualifying for medical marijuana will be able to get identification cards beginning in September, according to Morgan, but the application process will be staggered.

Applications for those who want to sell or grow marijuana will be out around the same time, Morgan said.

Massachusetts Cracks Down On Medical Marijuana Caregivers

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is cracking down on the state's booming cottage industry of medical marijuana caregivers who have been selling cannabis to meet the demand created by the state's medical marijuana law, adopted 18 months ago.

The state has sent letters to more than 1,300 patients, along with 17 caregivers, warning them that state regulations may prohibit any caregiver from selling marijuana to more than one patient, according to David Kibbe, spokesman for the Department of Health, report Shelley Murphy and Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe.

The caregivers are the only legal avenue for Massachusetts patients to buy medical marijuana until storefront dispensaries start to open -- and that won't happen before November at the earliest. Many of the caregivers advertise on the Internet.

The action angered many patients who rely on cannabis to relieve their symptoms.

"I have been put in a terrible situation," said David Tamarin, 41, a lawyer from North Andover whose doctor authorized him to use medical marijuana for chronic back pain and anxiety. Tamarin said he was outraged by the letter telling him he had to find another caregiver -- one who was not serving any other patients.

"The legalization of medical marijuana should make it easier, not more difficult, for a patient to get his medicine," Tamarind said.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Conference This Weekend In Chicago

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"Don't be shy," says Amish Parikh, vice president of My Compassion, a Michigan-based nonprofit hosting a medical marijuana conference this weekend in Chicago. "It's OK to talk about marijuana -- cannabis."

As Illinois' medicinal cannabis rules are being finalized, the Chicago Cannabis Conference 2014 is being held this weekend, June 7-8 at Navy Pier. It will feature experts, advocates and businesspeople speaking about issues from the medicinal uses of cannabis to how to cook with pot.

According to Parikh, his group includes a consultant, a doctor and a nonprofit executive. They plan to use the conference to boost awareness of the medical benefits of marijuana, and to boost its image.

"If you respect the law, the law will stay," Parikh said. "We're trying to teach that as well."

Dr. Herman Toney, a medical marijuana advocate, will be joined at the conference by medical and scientific experts including naturopath Dr. Rob Streisfold, pediatrician Dr. Roberet Hicks, and cannabis researcher Dr. David Ostrow, reports Will Schutt at Medill Reports.

Panels will also be included where patients with brain cancer, leukemia, Crohn's, epilepsy and other conditions will speak about their experiences with medical marijuana.

Illinois: Proposed Rule Nixed; Would Have Barred Medical Marijuana Patients From Having Guns

IllinoisMedicalMarijuanaGunOwners

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A proposed rule that would have barred medical marijuana patients from getting Firearm Owner's Identification cards has been nixed.

State officials had posted preliminary rules for the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program that barred medicinal cannabis patients or their caregivers from obtaining a FOID card if they were part of the program, reports Becky Schlikerman at the Chicago Sun-Times.

That provision has now been removed from rules that will be officially filed for review later this week, according to the Sun-Times. It was not immediately known if the same provision about Concealed Carry Weapons Permits had also been removed from the rules.

"I'm happy to see that they have changed the provision," said Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who sponsored the medical marijuana legislation and sits on the committee that will vote on the official rules. "I did ask them to remove it. I'm not the only one who did."

Both patients and caregivers would have been required to certify their understanding of the conflict between gun ownership and medical marijuana use, reports Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press.

Massachusetts: Boston Mayor Says He Will Block Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

BostonMayorMartinJWalsh

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh this week moved to block the opening of two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, saying he's "dead set" against the shops at a forum in Dorchester and then sending a letter to state officials urging "swift action" if any problems are found with the companies' applications.

"I am writing to express my serious concern regarding the two registered marijuana dispensary applicants in the city of Boston," the mayor wrote in a Tuesday letter addressed to Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz, and to Executive Director Karen Van Unen of the state's medical marijuana program, reports Meghan E. Irons at The Boston Globe.

Questions remain about the two companies, Mayor Walsh claimed. Green Heart Holistic Health & Pharmaceuticals Inc. wants to open a 3,000-square-foot dispensary at 70 Southampton Street, and Good Chemistry of Massachusetts Inc. plans a shop on Boylston Street.

The mayor urged "swift and uniform action" if inaccuracies are found in the applications, saying that would bolster confidence in the regulatory process.

"If any information provided in either application is confirmed to be inaccurate, I ask that the Department of Public Health immediately eliminate that application from being eligible for a final certification of registration," Mayor Walsh wrote.

Illinois: Patients Would Lose Gun Rights Under Proposed Medical Marijuana Rules

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois medical marijuana patients would have to be fingerprinted, undergo a background check and pay $150 a year, under rules proposed by state officials on Tuesday -- and they would also give up their Second Amendment right to own a gun.

The plan details how adults with 41 specified medical conditions, including cancer, AIDs, and complex regional pain syndrome, may apply to get a medical marijuana patient registry ID card which entitles them to buy medicinal cannabis, reports Robert McCoppin at the Chicago Tribune.

The proposed rules are expected to be expanded over the course of the next year; they govern how medical marijuana can be legally grown, sold and purchased. The Illinois Department of Public Health is accepting comments on the rules until February 7, at which point they will be submitted to a legislative panel for approval by the end of April.

Most of the rules deal with how patients can qualify for an ID card to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, or more if a doctor specifically certifies that it's necessary.

But one controversial proposal says that qualifying patients or caregivers may not possess firearms, even if they have an Illinois gun owner's ID card or concealed carry permit. Violators will be subject to arrest by state police under the proposed rules.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Law To Go Into Effect January 1

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State agencies will begin establishing system of regulated medical marijuana cultivation and distribution to individuals with serious illnesses; patients will NOT be protected from arrest until registry is established by Dept. of Public Health

Legislation adopted this year to establish a state-regulated medical marijuana program in Illinois will go into effect Wednesday. Licensed medical marijuana cultivation and distribution facilities are expected to begin producing medical marijuana and providing it to patients in late 2014.

Patients with qualifying medical conditions will NOT be protected from arrest until the Department of Public Health has established the patient registry and approved their individual applications to the program.

"We hope state officials will work swiftly to ensure seriously ill patients no longer face legal penalties for using medical marijuana," said Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Illinois patients and their families have already waited long enough."

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP) will require coordination by three state agencies. The Department of Public Health will oversee the creation and management of the state's medical marijuana patient registry; the Department of Agriculture will regulate medical marijuana cultivation facilities; and the Department of Financial and Professional Responsibilities will regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

Massachusetts: Former Congressman Wants To Open 3 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former U.S. Representative William D. Delahunt wants to get into the medical marijuana business. Delahunt, a former Congressman from Massachusetts and longtime Norfolk County District Attorney, has filed applications with the state to open dispensaries in Plymouth, Taunton and Mashpee.

Delahunt said that his past experience as both a district attorney (for 21 years) and as a member of Congress make him especially well-suited to operate medical marijuana dispensaries. He represented the former 10th Congressional District in Massachusetts for seven terms, from 1997 to 2011.

Massachusetts has received 100 applications to open dispensaries; the law limits the number to 35 statewide, including at least one per county, but no more than five, reports Patrick Ronan at the Quincy Patriot Ledger.

The Massachusetts Department of Health on Friday released information on the 100 applications for dispensaries it has received, including the applicants' names and the cities and towns in which they want to open stores. Massachusetts' medical marijuana law requires that all dispensaries be run by nonprofits.

The state will announce its final selections on January 31 for the 35 available licenses, according to spokesman David Kibbe.

Massachusetts: Bay State Repeal Hopes To Get Rid Of Marijuana Prohibition In 2016

BayStateRepeal

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabis activists are working to put full marijuana law repeal before Massachusetts voters during the next presidential election, in 2016.

"We won't have to have it on the ballot again after we've finally repealed the prohibition," said activist William Downing, treasuer of ballot committee Bay State Repeal, reports Andy Metzger at MassLive.com.

Repeal, unlike legalization, doesn't create more laws around cannabis -- it repeals all those already on the books.

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to restrict marijuana, according to Downing, prohibiting doctors from prescribing cannabis in 1913, well before federal marijuana laws were passed in 1937. Downing, an activist since 1989, said he sees parallels between the marijuana movement and the people who repealed alcohol prohibition.

Bay State Repeal wants to put non-binding "public policy" questions about getting rid of the marijuana laws before voters in 2014, before writing the binding language for the 2016 ballot as an initiative petition.

"A lot more people vote generally when there's a presidential election and we do better when a lot more people vote because this is a populist issue," Downing said.

Predictably, "family" and "anti-drug" groups oppose the measure.

Massachusetts: Prospective Dispensary Owners Question Officials About Moratoriums

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Prospective medical marijuana entrepreneurs on Thursday warned that moratoriums in Massachusetts communities are severely hampering their site searches, and that the state might need to give applicants some flexibility in specifying the locations of shops and cultivation centers.

Members of the Massachusetts Department of Health were peppered with questions during a two-hour session about the licensing process for medical marijuana businesses, including the problems created by temporary dispensary bans in certain towns, reports Dan Ring at The Republican.

More than 400 attendees showed up for the event at the Somerville Holiday Inn, because it was the only pubic meeting the state will have on the licensing process before a November 21 deadline for submitting final applications for medical cannabis licenses. State officials plan to announce the awarding of licenses on January 31.

With moratoriums across Massachusetts limiting prospective locations, Fotis Loulourgas of Needham, CEO of a company which wants a medical marijuana license, asked if the state will insist that applicants list definite addresses of planned dispensaries.

"If that's the case, we are all looking at the same five buildings," he said.

Illinois: Work Begins On Medical Marijuana Rules

ILMedicalCannabis(HT)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Illinois officials have begun the work of setting up a system of regulations to let patients buy medical marijuana in the state.

Officials from at least four state agencies are meeting to draft rules that will govern medicinal cannabis distribution, reports Kurt Erickson at The Southern Illinoisan. Their goal is to have a final version ready for the Legislature by May.

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, passed this summer, makes Illinois the 20th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. It allows patients with serious medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's, multiple sclerosis, lupus and other conditions to legally use marijuana with a physician's authorization.

Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), sponsor of the law, said he hopes state regulators can issue a draft of their rules before the May deadline. "I know I've laid some difficult tasks on their plates," Lang said. "I'm just pleased that they're meeting now."

Massachusetts: One-Third of State's Municipalities Have Medical Marijuana Moratoriums

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana was very popular among Massachusetts voters, who, in overwhelming numbers last year, voted to make it legal. But it is less popular among state politicians; about one-third of the municipalities in Massachusetts have dispensary moratoriums in place.

An analysis shows that at least 115 of the state's 351 municipalities have passed temporary moratoriums on dispensaries, reports State House News Service. Other towns are considering similar measures, and still more have drafted new zoning laws restricting where the shops can locate.

"Personally, I am against it in my city, but since we can't not permit we have to make sure that we zone it in certain locations," said Lawrence City Council member Frank Moran. Lawerence was one of only two cities in the state that voted against medical marijuana last year (the other was Bellingham).

"The city of Lawrence, they spoke very loud and clear," Moran said. "They don't want it in the city."

But even towns where voters overwhelmingly approved the measure have taken steps to restrict access.

"We just wanted to make sure we had enough time with volunteers meeting only twice a month, to do this in a thoughtful manner," claimed Charlene Nardi, town administrator for Williamsburg, where nearly 80 percent of the voters approved medical marijuana. "There's no desire not to allow them," she said.

Massachusetts: 181 Apply To Open Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

MassachusettsMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health was busy on Thursday as 181 people or groups of business partners submitted applications to open medical marijuana dispensaries, according to DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett.

"We're glad that it was a highly competitive process and it will ensure patients' access to the medical use of marijuana in the commonwealth, Bartlett said, reports Lynn Jolicoeur at WBUR.

Thursday was the only day prospective dispensary operators could submit applications for the first phase of the approval process. A crowd showed up at DPH headquarters in downtown Boston, wheeling luggage or carrying boxes or large envelopes of paperwork.

Nearly two-thirds of the applicants may eventually be turned away, reports Chelsea Conaboy at The Boston Globe. Under the new medical marijuana law approved by Massachusetts voters last November, the state may license up to 35 dispensaries.

Bartlett said the DPH plans to choose the dispensaries before the end of this year after careful review, and it could take "several more months" before the dispensaries start actually providing marijuana.

Massachusetts: Deadline Looms For Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applications

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Thursday is the deadline for applications to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts. People who want to operate a dispensary must hand-deliver their initial application to the state Department of Public Health.

"The Department has created a solid regulatory framework for this new industry, and now we are ready to move forward with the competitive application process," said DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, reports Christine McConville at the Boston Herald.

"We are committed to a fully transparent process that respects patient needs, while ensuring safe communities," Bartlett said.

Up to 36 dispensaries can open in Massachusetts under the law, approved by voters last November. The outlets will provide cannabis for people with qualifying medical conditions including cancer, Parkinson's disease and AIDS.

Prospective dispensary operators must go through a two-step application procedure. In the first phase, state officials will review each applicant's finances and run background checks. Applicants must report if any member of their organization has had a felony drug conviction.

Applications of those who clear the initial phase will go before a selection committee will review them.

Those who hope to open dispensaries must pay a $1,500 fee as part of the Phase 1 application. If they qualify for Phase 2, they will have to pay another $30,000. Both fees are non-refundable.

Massachusetts: Panel Approves Rules For Medical Marijuana

Massachusetts: Cannabis Trade Group Advises Prospective Dispensary OwnersBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Public health officials in Massachusetts on Wednesday approved final regulations for the state's medical marijuana program, preparing for the voter-approved law to take effect. However, it will likely be a few more months before the first medical marijuana dispensaries open in the state.

Massachusetts in November became the 18th state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, allowing patients with cancer, Parkinson's disease and HIV to use cannabis with their doctor's authorization, reports Bob Salsberg at WBUR. The regulations also allow doctors to authorize marijuana for other debilitating conditions not specifically listed in the rules.

The Public Health Council unanimously approved the 45 pages of regulations, which will allow authorized patients to buy and possess up to 10 ounces as a 60-day supply, though some patients could be authorized for greater amounts with permission from their doctors.

Up to 35 dispensaries will be licensed to operate around the state.

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