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 .
Stacking the vapors... ILLA
It’s hard to ignore the prevalence of medical marijuana dispensaries in California and elsewhere. They are on the corner and in the news. If you are a tax lawyer, it is even harder to ignore them, for there are big tax problems in this industry. See Voters Say Yes To Marijuana, IRS Says No. But when I said I thought the industry was going corporate—Is Medical Marijuana Going Corporate?—I didn’t realize how true it was.
Now I’m getting merger notices. Yes, marijuana M&A is here. In this case, it’s about the vapor machines that can obviate smoking and instead dispense the meds without even using a match (or a lighter for that matter).
Medbox, Inc. (OTC Markets: MDBX) announced the acquisition of 100% of Vaporfection International Inc., manufacturer of Vaporfection vaporizers. Medbox was featured on the cover of the Los Angeles Times Business Section: Wall Street sees opportunity in marijuana.
Vaporfection makes “herbal delivery systems.” The deal involved the issuance of 260,864 MDBX stock warrants. Medbox sells and services automated, biometrically controlled dispensing and storage systems for medicine and merchandise. And Vaporfection seems quite a catch.
Vaporfection claimed Best Vaporizer in Product of the Year at the Cannabis Cup Amsterdam 2011, and Best Vaporizer at the Kush Expo LA 2012. The company’s patented designs cause marijuana to release its medicinal ingredient into the vapor. The resulting vapor is pure, virtually odorless, and goes into the patient’s respiratory system.
Vaporfection was created by Amir Yomtov in 2006. In 2011, the company was purchased by entrepreneur Herb Postma. Mr. Postma continues to manage Vaporfection and notes that under Medbox, Vaporfection revenues are projected to exceed $4 million in 12 months. All this sound rosy, but not to the feds.
After all, legal dispensaries are still labeled as drug traffickers under federal law, and that creates big tax problems. Section 280E of the tax code denies tax deductions for any business trafficking in controlled substances. The IRS says it must enforce Section 280E. Yet the U.S. Tax Court has opened the door a crack by allowing dispensaries to deduct other expenses distinct from dispensing marijuana. See Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems Inc. v. Commissioner.
If a dispensary sells marijuana and operates the separate business of care-giving, the care-giving expenses are deductible. Some expenses might relate to both. If only 10% of the premises are used to dispense marijuana, 90% of the rent is deductible. But good record-keeping is essential. See Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Persist Despite Tax Obstacles.
But even good records won’t make vaporizers or drug paraphernalia deductible. In Olive v. Commissioner, Martin Olive sold medical marijuana at the Vapor Room, where he used vaporizers so patients didn’t have to smoke. However, with only one business, Section 280E precluded Olive’s deductions.
Robert W. Wood practices law with Wood LLP, in San Francisco. The author of more than 30 books, including Taxation of Damage Awards & Settlement Payments (4th Ed. 2009 with 2012 Supplement, Tax Institute), he can be reached at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.
New Jersey's first medical-marijuana dispensary wins clearance to begin sellingBy Jan Hefler
Inquirer Staff Writer
New Jersey's first medical marijuana dispensary has been cleared to begin selling the drug to patients who register with the state Department of Health.
After weeks of setbacks, Greenleaf Compassion Center received a permit Monday to open for business in a former drug paraphernalia shop in Montclair, Essex County. The nonprofit organization will be allowed to offer only strains with reduced potency.
Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd said Greenleaf had passed its final inspections, but could not say when the dispensary would open for business. Asked if it would do so before the end of the year, she said: "I would expect that."
In August, when patients could begin signing up, O'Dowd had anticipated that Greenleaf would start dispensing marijuana in September. On Monday, she would say only that Greenleaf would open when it was ready.
Greenleaf chief executive Joe Stevens and his partner, Julio Valentin Jr., did not return calls seeking comment.
In August, Stevens also said he expected an early-September launch, but later explained that Montclair officials had told him it would take a few weeks to issue a certificate of occupancy after the building was renovated. He also said he did not know the Health Department would require laboratory testing of the marijuana before granting final approval.
O'Dowd said photo ID cards would be mailed to the 190 patients who registered with the Health Department after their doctors certified that they had medical conditions that can be alleviated by marijuana. An additional 130 patients are still going through the registration.
More than a year ago five other nonprofit companies received preliminary approval to open dispensaries, but they have been stymied by the lengthy process.
New Jersey is one of 17 states to allow medical marijuana despite a federal ban on the use of the substance. Federal officials have told the states they will not enforce the ban if marijuana is dispensed only to sick people and if state regulations are obeyed.
O'Dowd said her agency wanted to make sure New Jersey's program could withstand legal challenges and had taken the time to put together regulations to protect the public as well as patients. One of the challenges in implementing the program, she said, is that "the federal government views this as an illegal product."
Some dispensary owners and patients believe the state has been overly cautious and restrictive, causing patients to needlessly suffer.
Compassionate Care Foundation, one of the two nonprofits that plan to open a dispensary in South Jersey, has had to push back its estimated opening date many times in the last year because of problems getting local and state approvals. Its principal officers have had to undergo more than eight months of background checks, including extensive scrutiny of their finances.
William J. Thomas, the dispensary's chief executive, said last month that his company might be forced to abandon its plans if the background checks are not finalized soon.
O'Dowd said Monday those checks had not been completed. Thomas did not return a call and e-mail seeking comment.
Patients also have been getting anxious, especially those who paid the state's $200 registration fee in August and were expecting to receive their medicine last month.
"As each day passes, there's someone new who is suffering and someone new at risk of being prosecuted for self-medicating" by purchasing marijuana on the black market, said Rich Caporusso, a Medford man who was among the first patients to register.
He has Crohn's disease. He said his doctor believes his pain can be controlled by marijuana without the side effects of stronger drugs. In April, he sued the Health Department, saying it was stalling and ignoring patients' pain.
The medical marijuana law that then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed in January 2010 was supposed to be implemented that summer. But when Gov. Christie took office a few weeks after the signing, he wanted a full review of its provisions and also assurances from the federal government that there would be no prosecution.
The Health Department also took months to craft stringent regulations to limit the drug to patients with terminal illnesses, multiple sclerosis, and other serious ailments.
Jay Lassiter, an AIDS/HIV patient from Cherry Hill, said the Health Department's announcement was "wonderful news." He said he hoped there were no more snags.
He said the news was bittersweet because it came too late for Diane Riportella, a friend and patient activist who had testified at hearings, urging the Health Department to stop the delays in implementing the program.
She died last month of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). "She should have been first in line," Lassiter said.
NFL Bans Marijuana Yet Strong, Dangerous Painkillers Okay
We’ve reported on various NFL players who have been fined and suspended for their marijuana use. The latest player to be punished is Detroit Lions’ running back Mikel Leshoure:
The Detroit Lions running back, who missed his entire 2011 rookie season with a torn Achilles tendon, was arrested twice in less than a month on charges of marijuana possession in Michigan this offseason. In the latest incident, Leshoure failed to show for arraignment on Monday. Police reports indicate he tried to eat the marijuana he had on him during a traffic stop.
But Leshoure has been in trouble for marijuana use before. As the NFP’s Dan Pompei reported a year ago, Leshoure was suspended for a game at Illinois in 2009 after he tested positive for marijuana. Then Illini coach Ron Zook suspended Leshoure for the 2009 season opener against Illinois State. Hat tip to Philip Zaroo of MLive.com for not letting this sneak by.
Of course, Leshoure is just one of three 2011 draft picks for the Lions to be caught with marijuana this offseason. First-round draft pick Nick Fairley was arrested on Tuesday in Mobile, Ala. But Leshoure now has three strikes on him with the drug and will clearly be a target for the NFL after the court system finishes with Leshoure. Because this is his second arrest, he’s currently facing a felony charge.
Given the punishment these men’s bodies must endure, maybe marijuana use ought to be mandatory. It would certainly be a safer option than getting these athletes hooked on prescription opiates:
A study commissioned by ESPN and assisted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows retired NFL players misuse painkillers at a rate of 4-to-1 compared to the general public.
Miami Dolphins tight end Dan Johnson’s teammates called him “King of Pain” because of the myriad injuries he suffered throughout his career from 1983 through 1987. He became addicted to painkillers after two back surgeries.
“I was taking about 1,000 Vicodins a month,” Johnson told ESPN. “People go, ‘That’s impossible. That’s crazy.’ No, it’s exactly what I was taking. I mean, believe me, I’d love to be off medications. That’s my worry every day, to make sure I have medication.”
More than half of the surveyed former players reported using prescription painkillers during their playing days. Of that same group, 71 percent admitted misusing the drugs during their time in the NFL.
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Click on Magazine to see December 2011 Issue!!!!
Marijuana Plane: Authorities Seek Missing Pilot After Pot Found On Abandoned Aircraft
That's what happens when you try and fly a plane with out all of the plane parts. OOps! - T