Proposed MA DPH regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers
Posted by MikeCann via MikeCann.net
To: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
From: Andy Gaus
Re: Proposed regulations regarding medical-marijuana patients and caregivers
Thank you for providing this forum to comment on the proposed DPH regulations on medical marijuana.
Two provisions in particular appear to make it virtually impossible for caregivers to provide the marijuana patients need while dispensaries are slowly organizing themselves:
1) Each caregiver must provide marijuana for only one patient.
2) The caregiver is not supposed to receive any compensation whatever from the patient for providing the marijuana.
Put these two provisions together, and very few people can practically step forward and become caregivers.
Bear in mind that growing marijuana indoors requires investing several hundred dollars in equipment to get started, paying high electrical bills in the ensuing months as well as ongoing costs for soil and fertilizer, and putting in hours of very real physical labor. If a patient grows for herself, these costs are repaid by the marijuana harvested and the relief it brings. But if a patient cannot grow for herself, the very considerable costs and burdens of producing the marijuana fall totally on the caregiver, with all compensation prohibited. This isn't just unfair: it has the practical effect of making it virtually impossible to be a caregiver, which means no one can help the person who cannot grow for herself. If you wish to limit the ability of a caregiver to profit from their cottage industry, you could set a maximum number of patients (but not a maximum of one), or a maximum price per ouince, or both. A limit of, say, 20 patients per caregiver and $100 per ounce would keep caregivers and their homes from turning into for-profit dispensaries but would not leave patients with no one to turn to during a long period when cities and towns are enacting moratoriums and potential dispensary operators are clearing numerous legal hurdles.
The provision that a patient must have no more than two total sources of marijuana is also unnecessarily onerous. If all providers are supposed to use a common state database, any user of the database should be able to verify that the same patient isn't filling the same prescription multiple times at different locations. If a further check is needed, patients could be issued something like a ration book.
One senses in all these regulations the underlying assumption that a set of air-tight regulations is both necessary and sufficient to prevent medical marijuana from being diverted to healthy recreational users, and that without such air-tight regulations, large-scale diversion is inevitable, with disastrous social consequences, particularly the increased availability to minors.
Let's be realistic: recreational users, including minors, already have total access to marijuana if they want it. Kids themselves, when surveyed, report that marijuana is easier to get than alcohol. Those who get their dope from dealers needn't fear being rejected as too young, and most of them get it, not from dealers, but from each other, in a vast informal network where everyone is both a user and a distributor. Likewise, almost all Massachusetts adults who wish to consume marijuana recreationally have found or could find a connection: marijuana prices have actually come down in recent years due to market saturation.
As officials responsible for public health, your first priority must be to make sure that patients who need marijuana for relief of painful and debilitating conditions can get it.
Minimizing diversion cannot be the main goal: it will never be effective for its stated purpose and is certain to cause unnecessary stress and pain for patients who need relief now and for the caregivers who would like to provide it .
- Happenens again... Surprise Suprise...
Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour dismissed the case against Dr. Manuel Aquino-Villaman following a hearing Friday. Samour said Aquino-Villaman's actions were lawful under the Colorado Constitution, according to a court summary of the hearing. He also said the charges should be dropped because officials failed to preserve key evidence. Aquino-Villaman had been charged with felony conspiracy to distribute marijuana, in addition to forgery and attempt to influence a public servant.
It is rare for a judge to dismiss charges before trial, but this is the second time it has happened for a medical-marijuana doctor this year in Arapahoe County. In May, a different judge dismissed the case against Dr. Toribio Robert Mestas, also saying that the doctor's actions were protected by the Colorado constitution.
The Arapahoe County district attorney's office declined to comment on the most recent dismissal, saying it has not yet decided whether to appeal.
Attorney Lauren Davis, who represented Aquino-Villaman, said both cases show a hostility toward medical marijuana by prosecutors in the 18th Judicial District, which includes Arapahoe County.
"Their bias against medical marijuana in Arapahoe and Douglas counties is an affront to the constitutional rights of patients and recommending physicians," Davis said.
Although the doctors — two of more than 1,000 physicians who have recommended medical marijuana in Colorado — are no longer facing criminal charges, neither is currently practicing medicine.
In March, Aquino-Villaman voluntarily surrendered his license in the midst of a state Medical Board investigation into a marijuana recommendation he wrote for a pregnant woman. Aquino-Villaman denied wrongdoing and said the woman never disclosed her pregnancy. But his attorney said Aquino-Villaman, now 71, could not afford to continue fighting for his license.
Last month, Mestas agreed to temporarily stop practicing while he is the subject of a Medical Board investigation. A public document about the investigation says only that a Medical Board inquiry panel "had significant concerns that (Mestas) provided substandard care to multiple patients."
In both Aquino-Villaman's and Mestas's criminal cases, undercover police officers posed as patients who complained of injuries or other aches in attempting to obtain a medical-marijuana recommendation. After brief exams, the doctors provided the recommendations.
Prosecutors argued that the exams were substandard and that the officers never complained of "severe pain" — the condition for which they were recommended marijuana. But the judges ruled the doctors' diagnoses were reasonable based on the officers' statements.
"The presumption is that doctors are entitled to rely on what patients tell them in the course of an examination," Davis said. "It's not the doctor's job to play policeman."
John Ingold: 303-954-1068 or email@example.com
Read more: Medical-marijuana case against Aurora doctor dismissed - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_19542409#ixzz1gUpCPTtT
A California medical marijuana advocacy group is taking the Obama administration to court in an effort to halt the Justice Department's assault on marijuana growers and dispensers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group based in Oakland, Calif., has filed suit against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and northern California federal prosecutor Melinda Haag, claiming that the federal government's recent crackdown on medical marijuana operations is in violation of the Constitution's 10th Amendment.
Marijuana is a schedule 1 substance, deemed illegitimate for medicinal purposes and outlawed federally under the Controlled Substances Act, which the federal government is entitled to enforce. However, according to Americans for Safe Access, individual states are free to regulate substances as they see fit, and by virtue of the 10th Amendment the federal government cannot compel state authorities to contravene state law.
"Under the 10th Amendment, the government may not commandeer the law-making functions of the state or its subdivisions directly or indirectly through the selective enforcement of its drug laws," the suit claims.
"The federal government has instituted a policy to dismantle the medical marijuana laws of the state of California and to coerce its municipalities to pass bans on medical marijuana dispensaries," the lawsuit says. "To this end, the government has pursued an increasingly punitive strategy, which has involved criminal prosecutions of medical marijuana providers with draconian penalties and letters threatening local officials if they implement state law."
The suit cites, among other notices, a federal missive to the city of Oakland, informing city authorities that failure to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws would make them subject to prosecution.
"I like this lawsuit," San Francisco attorney Kenneth Wine told the San Francisco Weekly.
"While the federal government and its agents can do what they like in enforcing the federal criminal laws, they cannot compel the state to assist them," Wine said. "I suspect this case will cause the federal government in California to be very careful in the way they address state and local officials. Certainly, the threats and coercion against state and local officials by the U.S. Attorneys must stop, and likely will. For the feds to do otherwise is to put their marijuana enforcement strategy in jeopardy."
Narc Is So Despised, A Local Strain Of Marijuana Was Named In His 'Honor'
A former Washington drug cop so notorious for his misdeeds and aggressive tactics that a strain of medical marijuana was named after him in retaliation has been federally indicted for unlawfully selling guns.
Roy Alloway spent 32 years in law enforcement, the last 10 of which he was involved in the WestNET regional drug task force. Alloway took something of an unhealthy personal interest in giving additional pain to medical marijuana patients, according to many activists in the area, who "see him as a cop determined to lock up even legal users of pot," wrote Nina Shapiro at the Seattle Weekly.
Alloway made a career of trashing houses and intimidating their occupants, apparently not giving a damn if the people he harassed were legitimately sick or not.
And that's exactly why a potent marijuana strain was named "Alloway" in his "honor." Created by a well-known Everett breeder associated with advocate Steve Sarich of CannaCare, the Alloway strain includes the genetics of popular Seattle strain PermaFrost, with a little White Widow reputedly in the mix as well.
"Where do you begin?" said Sarich, who was raided by Alloway and WestNET in 2007. "This guy is a real piece of shit, and has been for years," Sarich told Toke of the Town Monday afternoon. "I can't wait to see how many of the cases Alloway was involved with are overturned, if he gets locked away on these charges."
For just one example of how he habitually got down, there was the infamous May 2010 raid by Alloway and other WestNET goons of an Olalla, Washington home linked to a Tacoma medical marijuana dispensary known as North End Club 420.
According to a mom who lived at the house, the Rambo wanna-be's handcuffed her 14-year-old son, took money kept in the Mickey Mouse purse of her nine-year-old daughter and seemed to take an unsavory glee in loudly announcing that their dad was "going to jail" because he was a "drug dealer."
As if that weren't enough, clueless WestNET agents illegally seized signed petitions for marijuana legalization from the home (they were later forced to return the petitions).
Thank goodness that prosecution fell apart, like so many of WestNET's vendettas, I mean cases, when Pierce County prosecutors decided to drop all charges against Guy Casey and Mike Schaef, owners of The Tacoma Patient Resource Center, also known as North End Club 420. Prosecutors said "there were too many holes in the case," and their star witness was a known meth head, thief and violent offender whose testimony was seen as "not credible."
Now it seems Alloway, a former Bremerton police officer, was busily violating the law for years, even as he harassed medical marijuana patients who weren't.
Alloway, 56, allegedly purchased almost 400 guns from three different federally-licensed firearms dealers between January 2005 and November 2010, federal prosecutors say, reports Josh Farley at the Kitsap Times.
When he wasn't busy brandishing his pistol in the faces of medical marijuana patients and handcuffing their children, Alloway was allegedly selling pistols to undercover agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives during gun shows.
Federal agents accuse Alloway of selling the guns without being properly licensed for the purpose of making a profit.
Alloway, a longtime Bremerton undercover narcotics detective, worked for both the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team (WestNET), a task force made up of officers from several local agencies, and the Bremerton Police Department's Special Operations Group.
He retired in May 2010 after a career "full of commendations." Yes, they're still decorating police for harassing medical marijuana patients.
The statutory maximum for Alloway's alleged crime as charged is five years in federal prison.
Alloway's South Kitsap home was raided by federal agents in November as part of a sweep of several suspects accused of illegal gun sales around Western Washington.
Federal prosecutors emphasized that the paperwork required during gun sales is important, because law enforcement can trace the weapon's sale, should the gun ever be used in a crime.
So, ironically, big "law and order" guy Alloway probably did far more to facilitate real crimes -- including cop killings -- than all the medical marijuana patients he ever hassled.
"Gun shows are legal, but funneling illegal gun sales through gun shows is not," said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. "Illegal gun sales allow guns to get in the wrong hands and blocks [sic] our ability to trace guns used in violent crimes. These defendants knew better, but put their profit ahead of the safety of the community."
- Isn't That a HOOT!
Lawsuit threat leveled as Holland Township has first reading of its medical marijuana rules
Monica Bakker, a representative of a local medical marijuana dispensary, accused the seven-member board of staying behind after the adjournment of its March 3 meeting to discuss and give instructions on a ordinance being prepared by the township Planning Commission.
“You violated the Michigan Open Meetings Act and broke the law and we intend to sue the township if this passes. We do not want to do that,” said Bakker, community outreach director of Patient Solutions 421, which currently operates a dispensary in the township.
Township Supervisor Terry Nienhuis denied the board violated Open Meetings Act.
“It didn’t occur. It’s an incorrect statement,” Nienhuis said, declining to comment further on the accusation.
Township planners approved an ordinance requiring the licensing of the premise used for the growing and dispensing of medical marijuana. Only the address of the facility will be needed for the license, not the name of the caregiver.
The proposed ordinance does not permit dispensaries, or require the names and addresses of patients.
“We feel the intent of the state law is for individual caregivers to provide medical marijuana. We don’t want to see a lot of storefronts (for distribution) that could multiply,” Nienhuis said.
Joe Cain, CEO of Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, called the ordinance “unconstitutional and illegal” and said he would also sue the board on behalf of patients if it is approved.
“Only the Michigan Legislature with a three-quarters majority can change the (medical marijuana) act, not this board,” said Cain, calling the collection of addresses for caregivers the same as requiring names.
The board has the medical marijuana ordinance on its May 19 agenda for a second reading and consideration.
No big mystery. Few people, including federal prosecutors, have any interest in preventing seriously ill people from using the drug when recommended by their doctors after other treatments have failed.
But would-be marijuana profiteers and their political allies – including the Tacoma City Council – weren’t content with the voters’ mandate for a nonprofit system. Perceiving a lax attitude in the Obama administration, they launched a marijuana trafficking industry that – for all the talk about suffering patients – was really about the money. (Ask the sick people being forced to pay as much as $400 an ounce for the drug.)
The Obama administration, it turns out, isn’t so lax after all. Lately, the Justice Department has been warning that sticking the “medical” label on cash-oriented operations won’t stop the feds from prosecuting, fining and confiscating the property of marijuana dealers – and the officials who abet them.
Gov. Chris Gregoire did precisely the right thing last month when she vetoed most of a bill that would have licensed for-profit marijuana dispensaries and grow operations.
Marijuana aficionados have accused her of caving to empty threats from this state’s two U.S. attorneys. In fact, the former attorney general was reading the legal landscape accurately.
The threats are originating in Washington, D.C. – not this state – and they are serious. Multiple states have been getting them, along with dozens of federal raids on marijuana dealers.
This new reality makes the official licensing of marijuana dispensaries a reckless action, for local governments as well as the state.
The Tacoma City Council, which has licensed roughly three dozen, has been waiting on legislative action to back up its local tolerance policy. But the Obama administration has made the Legislature irrelevant to any scheme for selling marijuana. Whatever happens in the special session, the City Council will be exposing landlords and city employees to serious legal risk if it doesn’t shut down anything that resembles a for-profit marijuana operation.
In Olympia, lawmakers would be wise to regroup, stop trying to extend faux legality to the industry and focus on passing a responsible budget this month.
There remains the problem of helping legitimate patients get access to therapeutic marijuana. Unfortunately, hack practitioners have passed out so many medical authorizations to common drug-seekers that it’s impossible to know how big a problem this is.
The industry has employed what amounts to a human shield strategy – hiding thousands of recreational users among the people who genuinely need the drug. It has every financial incentive to keep the numbers of “patients” as high as possible, and it takes only a handful of quacks and fly-by-night clinics to mass-produce the dubious authorizations needed to keep the industry swimming in cash.
The biggest favor the Legislature could do for the legitimate patients is enforce what the 1998 initiative envisioned: a strictly nonprofit system in which authorization happens in the context of established doctor-patient relationships. Then allow for a non-profit supply as needed.
Stop the gold rush. Weed out the drug-seekers. As night follows day, the Justice Department will lose interest in this state’s medical marijuana.
Drug-Bashing Republican Lawmaker Charged For Marijuana
In the latest fine example of Republican high-pocrisy when it comes to cannabis, a high-ranking GOP legislator in Rhode Island is squirming after being charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, possession of marijuana, and possession of "drug paraphernalia."
An embarrassing pot bust would be bad enough for any politician, but this guy -- Rep. Robert Watson -- is a real piece of work who is remembered for making offensive anti-drug, anti-gay and anti-immigrant remarks, reports Kase Wickman at The Raw Story.
In February, Watson said the Rhode Island Legislature had their priorities right -- "if you are a Guatemalan gay man who likes to gamble and smokes marijuana."
Rather than just apologize and move on, Watson -- while a guest on a radio show soon after that misstep, and in response to the understandable outcry over his comments -- said, "I reject the suggestion that it's insulting."
Watson continued to refuse to say he was sorry. "I apologize when appropriate and/or necessary," Watson told the Providence Journal in February. "I identify this situation as representing neither circumstance."
The East Greenwich, R.I., politician recently pooh-poohed debate over the decriminalization of marijuana as not worthy of legislators' time, reports The Associated Press.
Watson was pulled over at a police checkpoint on Friday, according to East Haven police. Officers noted a "strong odor of marijuana" coming from the nervous Republican's car, and charged him with possession and driving under the influence after a search.
The loud-mouthed, bigoted legislator seems to have suddenly gotten a lot quieter.
But his office finally released a statement on Monday in which he denied he was driving under the influence. He claimed he was in Connecticut to help a friend move, and was driving home from dinner when he was stopped.
"Trace evidence of marijuana was discovered and I was charged with operating under the influence, a charge I vehemently deny," Watson said in a prepared statement.
Watson won't face immediate political consequences for his little adventure. Rhode Island's Ethic's Commission won't investigate allegations that fall outside a lawmaker's public duties. So it looks like this two-faced THC-hound will continue having a bully pulpit to badmouth marijuana despite the fact that he enjoys hit himself.
He's been released after signing a $500 bond and promising to appear in court on May 11.