How does the compromise impact the Medical Marijuana Program?

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The compromise preserves the basic operations of the medical marijuana program. The new taxes do NOT apply to medical marijuana.

It does move the essential portions of the 2012 ballot question language to a new chapter – Chapter 94I – of the General Laws to codify the medical program, which had previously been a session law: Chapter 369, Acts 2012.

Control of the medical program is transferred from the Department of Public Health to the Cannabis Control Commission.  The intent is for new regulations to be adopted without negative impacts on the medical program and for it to remain revenue neutral:

The commission shall promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of this chapter under the procedures of chapter 30A.  The commission shall set application fees for medical marijuana treatment centers so as to defray the administrative costs of the medical marijuana program and ensure the medical marijuana program is revenue neutral.

No regulation of the commission regarding the medical use of marijuana shall be more restrictive than any rule or regulation promulgated by the department of public health pursuant to chapter 369 of the acts of 2012 and in effect on July 1, 2017.

There are several patient friendly measures in the compromise:

  • Expand the types medical of professionals that can issue certifications: physicians, physician assistants and certified nurse practitioners
  • Improve patient confidentiality protections
  • Improve temporary registration measures, to allow immediate access for patients upon certification

The compromise retains several important protections for the program:

  • Revenue neutrality of the medical program
  • Tax free status of medical use marijuana
  • Hardship cultivation registration for qualifying patients who lack access to medical use marijuana

The compromise allows marijuana treatment centers to convert to for-profit and prioritizes review of medical facilities to obtain licensure to engage retail sales.  These measures will allow for a more rapid roll out of retail sales.