Massachusetts: Most Marijuana Dispensary Applicants Approved In First Round


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Most of the 181 applications competing to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts were approved on Monday to go on to the second and final round, when the number will be whittled down to just 35 licenses.

The Massachusetts Public Health Department announced that 158 of the 181 applications are eligible to continue in the process, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe. The initial applicants were reviewed for nonprofit status, financial viability and compliance with other requirements.

"This is a very competitive process and we required applicants to meet high standards to advance," said state Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett. "We are fortunate that Massachusetts has a large field of serious applicants, who are capable of making a significant investment to benefit qualified patients and safeguard communities."

"While no decision to deny an applicant was taken lightly, we wanted to ensure that those who advance could demonstrate the ability to operate a successful nonprofit Registered Marijuana Dispensary," Bartlett said.

Twenty-two applicants did not meet the criteria, and one applicant withdrew, according to state officials.

Applicants were denied for a variety of reasons, including failing to incorporate as a nonprofit, or a lack of demonstrated financial viability.

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


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: Boston Public Health Commission Wants To Review Medical Marijuana Plans


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Boston Public Health Commission is asking for authority to permit and inspect medical marijuana dispensaries, as the state of Massachusetts begins vetting applications to open the shops.

With 21 of the 181 applications collected last week by the state Department of Health proposing to open dispensaries in Suffolk County, most of those are likely to be in Boston, according to Chelsea Conaboy of The Boston Globe.

Applicants are required to clear a screening of their criminal history and finances. State officials plan to start a more in-depth review of proposed locations and operations next month.

Those within Boston city limits should also be subject to a local review, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the Boston Public Health Commission's executive director. The commission plans to ask the Boston Board of Health to grant it oversight authority over the dispensaries.

"We need to support patient access as well as ensure that neighborhood and public health interests are met, and we believe that an additional local regulation can help accomplish that balance," Ferrer said.

Massachusetts: 181 Apply To Open Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


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


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: Two-Thirds Favor Marijuana Legalization In Survey


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new poll from Suffolk University shows that two out of three Massachusetts residents surveyed feel that the cost of enforcing marijuana laws is more than it is worth.

"It doesn't surprise me, because I do believe we live in a society where people are open minded, and I do see in the future that marijuana will be legalized one day," said Justin Lopez of Holyoke, reports Kara Dominick at WWLP.

A January poll by The Huffington Post also asked whether the War On Drugs had been worth the cost, with 53 percent saying it was not.

Sixty-three percent of Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana last November.

Michigan: Thousands Demand Release Of Patient Imprisoned For Medical Marijuana


An online petition is helping medical cannabis prisoner Jerry Duval’s request for Compassionate Release gain some traction. Duval is serving a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for marijuana, even though he was legally registered and strictly complied with Michigan state law.

Duval’s prison sentence has become the focus of a media firestorm in recent weeks, including an article in Huffington Post that highlights the $1.2 million dollar price tag, just for Duval’s medical costs while incarcerated. The 53-year-old organ transplant recipient surrendered to a Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts on June 11.

Duval has filed for relief under the Bureau of Prison’s Compassionate Release program. In addition to his serious medical conditions, Duval points to sentencing disparities among similarly situated defendants.

Just this week, Edwin Schmieding received two years' probation after being convicted of growing 8,000 plants less than 30 miles from the Duval farm. A federal judge felt that Schmieding “deserves a break.” The indictment against Schmieding’s wife was dismissed by U.S. Attorneys.

Despite their strict compliance with Michigan’s medical marijuana laws, Duval and his son, Jeremy, were given no such breaks. The pair was convicted after deciding to stand trial and fight the charges, even though state law is traditionally not allowed as a defense in federal court. Jeremy is serving a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.

Massachusetts: Judge Decides Marijuana-Growing Mom Shouldn't Go To Jail


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A judge in Massachusetts said on Wednesday that he didn't see the need for marijuana-growing mom Cathy Luong, 45, to go to jail.

Hampden Superior Court Judge John S. Ferrara rejected an agreement between defense and prosecution that would have put Luong in jail for six months, giving her two years' probation instead, reports Buffy Spencer at The Republican.

Workers and police entered Luong's $400,000 Springfield home on December 11, 2011, due to a gas leak emergency. They found a large hydroponic cannabis-growing operation, got a warrant based on what they saw, and seized the evidence.

Luong on May 31 pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. The sentencing was held last Wednesday.

The state had dropped a charge of violating a drug-free school zone, with its mandatory two-year sentence, and possession of a large capacity firearm, in reaching the plea agreement which was rejected by Judge Ferrara.

The gun had been found in a drawer in Luong's nightstand.

Assistant D.A. Matthew W. Green and defense lawyer Thomas Lesser had agreed to ask Ferrara to sentence Luong to one year in the Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center, with six months to be served and the rest suspended with two years' probation.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Patients Would Pay $50, Dispensaries $50,000 Annual Fee Under Plan


Dispensary Licenses Would Cost $50,000 A Year Under Department of Health Plan

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is proposing to charge medical marijuana patients $50 a year, and dispensaries an annual fee of $50,000.

Patients with a "verified financial hardship" would be allowed to request a waiver of the registration fee, subject to review and approval by the state health department, reports Kay Lazar of the Boston Globe.

Patients who qualify for a hardship license to cultivate (most patients won't be allowed to grow at home; all except those who are mobility challenged will be required to buy from dispensaries) would have to pay an additional $100 fee for the privilege, reports WCVB.

The proposed rules call for marijuana dispensaries to pay an initial $1,500 application fee, followed by a $30,000 charge for the second phase of the licensing process; both fees are nonrefundable, even if the application is denied.

Licensed dispensaries will then be required to pay an annual fee of $50,000. Dispensaries would also be required to pay a $500 annual registration fee for each of their employees.

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.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers May Reduce Number of Allowed Dispensaries

Illustration: The Daily ChronicBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Massachusetts Public Health Committee on Monday will hear proposals to change the state's medical marijuana law as it prepares to implement the voter-approved measure. Among the changes is one that would reduce the maximum number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed in the state from 35 to only 10.

Another proposal would prohibit the dispensaries from being located within 1,000 feet of schools, houses of worship or civic centers, reports The Associated Press.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is scheduled to publish final regulations for medical marijuana later this month.

Massachusetts voters last November approved a ballot question legalizing medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions, including cancer, AIDS and Parkinson's disease.

Under the new medical marijuana law, patients are allowed to buy and possess up to a 60-day supply of cannabis.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Education for Doctors Now On

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana is now legal in 18 states and is being studied worldwide by physicians and other healthcare professionals. One of the places professionals are learning more about medicinal cannabis is on the medical education website,

"Medical marijuana may be controversial, but it is an important area of study in healthcare," said Stephen B. Corn, M.D., editor-in-chief and cofounder of TheAnswerPage. Corn is a clinician, professor and an award-winning, prolific author.

"Doctors and healthcare professionals must understand the medical, legal, social and political issues to best respond to their patients' questions and attend to their needs," Dr. Corn said.

Medical professionals visit daily to learn the latest medical information and earn continuing medical education (CME) credit, according to Corn. Educational areas on the site include opioid prescribing, pain medicine, palliative care, risk management, anesthesiology, perioperative and hospital medicine, clinical statistics, and medical marijuana.

The Massachusetts Medical Society accredits all educational content on the site.

Massachusetts: Court Says Marijuana Smell Not Sufficient Cause For Search

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

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in a series of three rulings issued on Friday, reined in police who have been using the smell of marijuana as a pretext to search automobiles.

Two years ago, the justices handed down the Cruz decision, which made it clear that car searches can't be conducted on the basis of finding marijuana, but police have continued the practice, according to

The ruling stems from Massachusetts v. Pacheco, a case in which Antonio L. Pacheco was sitting in a gray sedan parked in a handicapped spot with four friends. A state trooper walked up, noticing the fogged windows of the vehicle, and knocked on the window. He smelled marijuana as soon as the window was rolled down.

The trooper then searched the car, finding a small baggie with less than an ounce of marijuana on the floor mat behind the passenger seat. Nothing else untoward was found in the car interior, so the trooper opened the trunk and started rifling through its contents.

At that point, he found a backpack containing a semiautomatic handgun. Pacheco admitted he had the gun for self-protection, but he had no "firearm identification card" as is required in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts: First Marijuana Dispensaries Could Open By Year's End

Illustration: The Daily ChronicBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts could open by the end of this year, according to a timeline released on Friday by the state Department of Public Health.

Draft regulations on the medical use of marijuana in Massachusetts were filed by the DPH, which expects the final regulations to be approved by the Public Health Council and the Secretary of State by the end of May, report Marie Szaniszio and Erin Smith at the Boston Herald.

DPH is expected to start accepting applications from prospective dispensary operators by summer, and continue reviewing shops for license approval through the fall, said Interim Commissioner Dr. Lauren Smith.

"DPH solicited an unprecedented level of input in drafting these regulations to create a medical marijuana system that is right for Massachusetts," Smith said. "In this proposal, we have sought to achieve a balanced approach that will provide appropriate access for patients, while maintaining a secure system that keeps our communities safe." ("Safe" from one of the most non-toxic substances known to man, presumably.)

DPH requires that each nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC), as it calls dispensaries, will operate its own growing facilities. No wholesale distribution of cannabis products will be allowed.

Massachusetts: Police Say Men Mailed $1 Million In Marijuana From California

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seven men were arrested after a six-month investigation into a cross-country operation in which $1 million in marijuana was mailed from California to Malden, Massachusetts, police announced on Thursday.

Seized in a series of raids at Malden homes were six pounds of marijuana, six guns, and thousands of dollars in cash, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone, reports Jarret Bencks of the Boston Globe.

Cops say they started investigating the so-called "Maplewood Crew" after U.S. Postal Service employees intercepted several packages containing cannabis addressed to various homes in Malden.

Arrested were:

• Dat Tran, 23; possession of ammunition as an armed career criminal, trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, conspiracy to traffic marijuana, money laundering

• Reginald Miller, 20; breaking and entering, trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, possession of a large-capacity weapon, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, possession of ammunition, destruction of property, being an armed career criminal

• Joshua Joyner, 21; trafficking of more than 100 pounds of marijuana, conspiracy to traffic marijuana more than 100 pounds

Massachusetts: Cannabis Trade Group Advises Prospective Dispensary Owners

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

It's just two weeks until Massachusetts releases its regulations for medical marijuana, and people interested in getting into the business gathered for a symposium in downtown Boston held by a national cannabis trade association.

Members of the National Cannabis Industry Association educated potential entrepreneurs on Saturday, reports Lynn Jolicoeur at WBUR.

"It's certainly not an easy business to be in," said NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith. "If somebody thinks they're going to get in this and make a bunch of cash and get out without a lot of headaches, then they're wrong and they need to get involved in something else potentially."

"There's something altruistic in nature in being involved in this industry," agreed Ean Seeb, who runs a medical marijuana dispensary in Denver. "And if you're getting involved in it simply for the money, it's probably the wrong reason to be involved."

"You need to be fully aware of the possible repercussions of what could happen as a result of you being involved in the industry," Seeb said. "On the other side, the number one reason to be involved is because, at least for us, we want to be on the right side of history."

Draft regulations governing medical marijuana will be released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at the end of March.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries May Open This Summer

Illustration: The Daily ChronicBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana patients in Massachusetts could have safe access through dispensaries by this summer. State public health officials plan to approve final regulations for the shops this spring.

Draft regulations will be issued March 29 by the Department of Public Health, reports Josh Stilts at the The Berkshire Eagle. If approved by the Public Health Council, which reviews all health policies in the state, the rules could go into effect May 24.

Massachusetts cities are not allowed to completely ban local medical marijuana dispensaries, according to a recent ruling by Attorney General Martha M. Coakley. They can, however, regulate and/or delay them through zoning and other measures.

The attorney general's ruling, prompted by a dispensary ban enacted last fall by the town of Wakefield, says that local bans would conflict with the intent of the state's medical marijuana law, approved by 63 percent of state voters in November. Wakefield's dispensary ban came just one week after medical marijuana was legalized.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had written Coakley last month, urging her to rule against Wakefield's bylaw which banned dispensaries.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Experts Host Boston Educational Event

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will host the Northeastern CannaBusiness Symposium on March 16 in downtown Boston. Prior to the release of the Massachusetts medical marijuana regulations slated for March 28, stakeholders in Massachusetts' future medical marijuana market and others engaged in medical marijuana business in the northeast will gather for this trade association symposium.

The half-day educational program will present investors and entrepreneurs interested in Massachusetts' emerging medical cannabis market with an opportunity to glean information from cannabusiness professionals and experts in the fields of regulatory models, operations and ancillary businesses. The event will feature individual and panel presentations, question and answer periods, and an evening networking reception.

"NCIA is honored to have the opportunity to ensure development of the most well-educated and sophisticated local medical cannabis market by connecting Northeastern entrepreneurs with the best and brightest minds in the national industry," said Aaron Smith, NCIA's executive director. "Collectively, the symposium speakers represent decades of experience in the legal medical cannabis industry and can provide unique insight to those looking to contribute to the Commonwealth's nascent industry."

What: Northeastern CannaBusiness Symposium

Massachusetts: State Regulators To Unveil Medical Marijuana Rules March 29

Illustration: The Daily ChronicBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Regulations for the use of medical marijuana in Massachusetts will be unveiled on march 29, state public health regulators said on Wednesday morning.

The draft regulations will be filed with the Secretary of State's office that day and also posted on the health department's website, according to Interim Deputy Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, reports Kay Lazar at the Boston Globe.

The regulations will be presented on April 10 to the Public Health Council, an appointed group of doctors, policy specialists, and educators, for a "comprehensive discussion that will serve as our primary opportunity to engage in substantive deliberation" about the policy, Bartlett said.

Massachusetts voters, with 63 percent in favor, overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure allowing patients with certain medical conditions to be authorized by the doctors to use cannabis medically. The new law required the health department to issue medical marijuana regulations by May 1.

Health officials have already admitted they're going to miss the target date. The timeline announced on Wednesday morning has the council approving final regulations on May 8, after a public hearing scheduled for April 19.

Massachusetts: Marijuana Compounds Could Beat Back Brain Cancer

By Randy Dotinga, HealthDay Reporter

There is a truth that must be heard! Preliminary research suggests that a combination of compounds in marijuana could help fight off a particularly deadly form of brain cancer.

But the findings shouldn't send patients rushing to buy pot: the levels used in the research appear to be too high to obtain through smoking. And there's no sign yet that the approach works in laboratory animals, let alone people.

Still, the finding does suggest that more than one compound in marijuana might boost cancer treatment, said study author Sean McAllister, an associate scientist at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco. "Combination therapies might be more appropriate," McAllister said.

Researchers have long studied the compounds in marijuana known as cannabinoids, which are thought to hold possible health benefits. One, known as THC, is well known for its role in making people high when they smoke or eat pot. Researchers have been testing it as a treatment for the brain tumors known as glioblastomas.

In the new study, researchers tested THC and cannabidiol, another compound from marijuana, on brain cancer cells. The findings appear in the January issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

The study authors found that the combination treatment seemed to work better at killing the cancerous cells and preventing them from growing back.

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