Hold the Green Rush: Massachusetts Cracking Down on Caregivers

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It’s almost a necessary part of the cannabis legal reform process: a law passes, so then there’s conservative backlash at the state level. For decades, people in power defined themselves and their job success in terms of arresting/incarcerating drug users and those involved in the black market. Now that popular opinion and cultural attitudes toward cannabis and especially medical cannabis patients and caregivers is changing, some of those in positions of power are at a total loss. These folks seems to enjoy creating and enforcing bureaucratic red tape to impede the safe access of other human beings.

Massachusetts is a perfect example of good intentions gone a little wild. The state has a very restrictive view of medical cannabis caregiving: those providing medical cannabis to a patient in the state may only sell to that one, singular patient (though some claim this issue is just due to the newness of the program and that it will be corrected in time by the state). Still, the current application of the law hasn’t stopped a number of growers from branching out to provide safe access to many people.

There are not currently any operational retail dispensaries in the state, which means patients and caregivers have to resort to legally gray transfers. Now patients across Massachusetts have been served letters warning them that they have to find new caregivers who aren’t serving anyone else. This comes on the heels of finding out that dispensaries in the state may have a harder time getting licenses than originally thought, with half of those with applications still pending having been recently denied.

Caregivers are being told to cease and desist by the state, and patients are left scrambling trying to find a new source of medical cannabis. Many of those who were boldly asserting that they were part of the Massachusetts Green Rush are now being told they are not in compliance with the law. Clearly, the program has a long way to go before people in the state will have safe access for qualifying medical conditions.

Still, polling in the state shows strong support; the medical marijuana law passed with 63% support back in 2012 and a recreational legalization bill received 53% support in polls in February of this year. Most remain optimistic that the kinks and restrictions in the program will be worked out in due time.


Photo Credit: Mario Antonio Pena Zapateria under (CC BY-SA 2.0)  via Flickr