Massachusetts Medical Society’s Comments on the Medical Marijuana Program

massachusetts-medical-society-logoThe Massachusetts Medical Society has Advice for the Department of Public Health on how to Implement Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Medical Society is the professional association for doctors and medical students in the Commonwealth.  Dating back to 1781 they have in excess of 24,000 members.

They were represented at the February 14th DPH listening session that took place in Boston, and submitted a written statement with comments and suggestions on how the DPH should implement the medical marijuana program.

The Society’s president, Richard Aghababian, M.D., spoke out against Question 3 when it was up for a vote by Mass residents in November of 2012.  The reasons for the Society’s opposition are as follows: medical marijuana has not been tested by the FDA like other drugs they approve; that according to Dr. Aghababian marijuana smoke is more poisonous than cigarette smoke; that the use of marijuana has been associated with the long-term impairment of mental capacity; and that physician prescribing of any drug should be based on scientific fact, and not by the voters.  They do support the development of smokeless forms of cannabis for research purposes.  Noteworthy is that their opposition statement advocated for the rescheduling of cannabis under federal law so that it can be studied.

On December 2, 2012 after the passage of Question 3 the MMS has changed their policy on medical marijuana.  While they are not for open access to cannabis, and certainly oppose its recreational use, given the proper implementation, they are no longer opposed to the medical marijuana program in Massachusetts.  Their new policy has input on seven areas of the law:  they want to work with the Board of Registration in Medicine to determine what constitutes a bona fide physician/patient relationship, and they want required parent authorization before a minor can be certified for the use of medical cannabis; they want to develop standards for certification by physicians which include the requirement that physicians have a Federal Drug Enforcement Agency Registration, a Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, and a Massachusetts Department of Public Health Control Substance Registration; they want a certification to be based on a physician’s determination that pain can not be controlled with non-cannabis treatments; they want consideration of occupational health and safety; they want recommendations from the American Society on Addiction Medicine to be included; they want the Prescription Monitoring Program to be involved with treatment centers; and finally that existing peer reporting requirements do not apply to doctors who certify their patients for medical cannabis.

These requirements were largely addressed in their written comments to the Department of Public Health on February 14, 2013.  The Massachusetts Medical Society has extensive information on their website about their stance on medical marijuana in the state.  As always, let me know your thoughts.

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