New regulations in Massachusetts, if passed, would allow medical caregivers to up the number of patients they care for. As of August 3, during a public hearing, the Cannabis Control Commission announced a proposal to allow caregivers to support as many as 10 medical cannabis patients each. It would also allow caregivers to grow up to 500 square feet of medical cannabis in some cases in order to support the newly approved patients.
However, not everyone was a fan of this proposal. The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance was against this proposal from the start, claiming it would not actually be good for patients. While the idea may sound on the surface like a great way to get more medicine for more patients, many are resistant to the plan.
On the other hand, Grant Ellis, a medical cannabis patient in Massachusetts who was at the hearing, claims that the new idea is a “threat to only one group of people, that being the existing brick and mortar dispensaries who do not want patients to have at-cost access to medical cannabis.”
In addition to the threat some feel the new rule could cause, the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance claimed that caregivers should be allowed to help more patients, but that 10 is not the magic number the state should be striving for when it comes to adding new patients into the mix.
“An arbitrary number of patients per caregiver will likely open the door to a gray market that is indistinguishable from the legally-regulated market you and the staff have worked so hard on developing,” Nichole Snow, the president and executive director of the MPAA, said in an official statement regarding the proposed change to patient numbers.
High Stakes And High Tension
During the hearing, tensions ran high, with one patient advocate, Goldie Piff, going so far as to call the MPAA’s feedback “B.S. about caregivers” in order to call for more support. She claimed this new proposal will actually help patients because it will allow for medical cannabis to be sold at a lower price.
“Caregivers are so very important. This is a very good number to ensure caregivers can provide the lowest possible cost medication to those most vulnerable,” said Dawn Duncan, an advocate in support of the CCC’s proposal.
Additionally, caregivers under the new program are still going to be on the hook for explaining proper use of cannabis to patients, so it will not be a free-for-all if the allowed number of patients changes.
“A Certifying Healthcare Provider shall complete a program that explains the proper use of Marijuana, including side effects, dosage, and contraindications, including with psychotropic drugs, as well as on substance abuse recognition, diagnosis, and treatment related to Marijuana,” the rundown of the proposal explains.
It remains to be seen whether this new proposal will become law in Massachusetts, but it is contentious even as a proposal and provides proof that the medical cannabis system in many states is still being ironed out.