Last Friday, Suffolk University Law School hosted a day-long seminar on Medical Marijuana: “Navigating the Law and the Science.” With many clients in the liquor and pharmacy industries, it seemed a natural for Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz, and the seminar did not disappoint.
Retired SJC Justice John Greaney moderated two morning sessions, which included discussions of Massachusetts’ new medical marijuana laws, comparisons with similar laws nationwide, and an overview of the latest research on medical and scientific uses for marijuana.
Highlights from later sessions included:
- Dr. Lauren Smith, Interim Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, summarizing the regulations which are due to be issued soon;
- Speculation concerning how federal officials will respond within the Commonwealth, given that marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act; and
- Views of representatives of law enforcement and municipal and state regulators from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.
One, we were surprised to learn that Question 3 (which legalized medical marijuana in Massachusetts) not only passed with a very solid 63 percent of the vote statewide, but actually received majority support in every locality except two (Lawrence and Mendon, and even there only lost 51 – 49). Supporters claim that full legalization (at the state level, ala Colorado and Washington state) is coming to Massachusetts in 2016.
Two, we were impressed by the list of serious medical conditions for which marijuana has been found useful by patients and sufferers (such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s, MS), though research has been slow to happen in large part due to the difficulty of studying a material that is illegal to possess.
Three, Massachusetts seems intent on proceeding with a legal structure that is non-profit, and “vertically integrated” meaning dispensaries will be the source of their own product. We think the state might be better served to consider the alcoholic beverages regulatory model. This would allow for-profit entities to either manufacture or retail the product, allowing each to specialize at whatever they do best, and retain whatever after-tax profit is generated.