Veterans, PTSD, & OUD in Massachusetts Petition 60

MA HB179/S.70 & S.64/H.173, & H.176 Bills: Veterans Access to Medical Cannabis, PTSD & Opioid Use Disorder; Medical Cannabis De-verticalization

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Dear members of the Massachusetts General Court,We, the undersigned, express our support for the following bills (including the indicated amendments).

We feel passing these pieces of legislation is crucial as to creating access pathways for veterans to medical cannabis cards and adding PTSD and Opioid Use Disorder to the list of conditions to obtain a medical card.

Likewise, we support an amendment to the proposed legislation seeking to deverticalize medical cannabis operator licenses to include a 3-5 year equity priority period for all such licenses;

H.179 & BILL S.70 An Act Further Defining Eligibility For Medical Use Marijuana: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/H179 and https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S70

Link to S.64/H.173 (Medical deverticalization bill lacking equity priority periods): https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S64 and https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/H173

Link to H.176 (Medical deverticalization bills lacking equity priority periods): https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/H176

The descriptions of the Bills are below. Thank you for your support to expand access to medical cannabis in Massachusetts!

Best, Stephen Mandile, Ellen Brown, MassCann, & the Cannabis Center of Excellence.

___________________________

Bill H.179 & Bill S.70 - Description of the Bill Contents:

An Act Further Defining Eligibility For Medical Use Marijuana

1. Remove redundant steps and the barrier of cost by streamlining the process for Veterans to obtain a medical cannabis card, by allowing veterans to submit their Veterans Administration (VA) paperwork with proof of a qualifying condition in-lieu of scheduling and paying out of pocket for a written recommendation from a Certifying Health Care Provider, outside of the VA.

States accepting paperwork from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs:

Illinois, North Dakota and Florida is in the process.

2. Add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions. MA is the only state in New England without PTSD as a qualifying condition. Upon the recommendation of an eight member advisory board of physicians, New Mexico became the first state to specifically list PTSD as a qualifying condition in 2009. Currently all but two of the 36 states with medical cannabis programs (Alaska’s and South Dakota) allow medical cannabis for PTSD. Thirty states ( plus Guam) specifically list it as a qualifying condition either by statute or in regulations.

75% reduction in symptom scores were reported when PTSD patients were using marijuana compared to when they were not.

(Greer, GR, et al., “PTSD symptom reports of patients evaluated for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program,” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 2014 January-March;46(1):73-7. )

3. Add Opioid Use Disorder as a qualifying condition. States with OUD as a qualifying condition: New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania. At least eight states have Substance Use Disorder (not restricted to opioids) as a qualifying condition.

MA DPH reported there have been over 2,000 opioid-related overdose deaths annually for 4 of the last 5 years, with 2020 setting a record of 2,104 deaths. In the legislative report An Assessment of Fatal and Nonfatal Opioid Overdoses In Massachusettspursuant to Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2015 published by the Massachusetts Health and Human Services and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found, “The percentage of identified veterans who had a fatal opioid related overdose was three times the state average.” Which is higher than the national average of two times.

Bill H.179/S.70: An Act further defining eligibility for medical use marijuana

SECTION 1. Section 1 of chapter 94I of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the definition of “Debilitating medical condition” and inserting in place thereof the following definition:-

“Debilitating medical condition”, cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, opioid use disorder, and other conditions as determined in writing by a registered qualifying patient's registered healthcare professional.

SECTION 2. Said section 1 of said chapter 94I of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the definition of “Qualifying patient” and inserting in place thereof the following definition:-

“Qualifying patient”, (1) a person who has been diagnosed by a registered healthcare professional as having a debilitating medical condition, or (2) a veteran receiving their health care at a federal Veterans Administration facility provides their Veterans Administration award letter indicating an existing disability to the commission; provided, that a such a veteran shall not be required to receive a diagnosis from a registered healthcare professional.

Bill S64/H.173: An Act relative to vertical integration for medical marijuana businesses

SECTION 1. Section 2 of chapter 94I of the General Laws, is hereby amended by adding the following subsection:-

(f) The commission may establish and enforce license tiers, in addition to the medical use marijuana license, to make available separate licenses classes including but not limited to: medical marijuana product manufacturer, medical marijuana cultivator, and medical marijuana treatment centers. The commission may promulgate the rules and regulations relative to the license classes established under this subsection.

SECTION 2. Section 7 of chapter 94I of the General Laws, is hereby amended by inserting after the word "centers" in the second sentence, the following words:- , and for any classes of license under subsection (f) of section 2 of this chapter,

Bill H.176: An Act relative to medical marijuana patient safety and access

SECTION 1. Section 4 of chapter 94G, of the General Laws, as most recently amended by section 26 of chapter 55 of the acts of 2017, is hereby amended in subsection (a1/2) by adding the following clause:-

"(xxxv) requirements for retail marijuana stores that do not sell medical use marijuana to inform qualifying patients and card holders, as defined by section 1 of chapter 94I, that the marijuana or marijuana products offered at the retail marijuana store is not medical use marijuana".

SECTION 2. Section 2 of chapter 94I of the General Laws, as most recently amended by section 44 of chapter 55 of the acts of 2017, is hereby amended by adding the following subsection:-

(e) The commission may establish and enforce license tiers, in addition to the medical use marijuana license, to make available separate licenses classes including but not limited to: medical marijuana product manufacturer, medical marijuana cultivator, and medical marijuana treatment centers. The commission may promulgate the rules and regulations relative to the license classes established under this subsection.

SECTION 3. Section 7 of chapter 94I of the General Laws, as most recently amended by section 44 of chapter 55 of the acts of 2017, is hereby amended by inserting after the word "centers" in the second sentence, the following words:- ", and for any classes of license under subsection (e) of section 2 of this chapter,".

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