boston herald

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Massachusetts: Doctors Use Marijuana As Opioid Substitute

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Hundreds of opioid addicts in Massachusetts are being treated with medical marijuana, and advocates say the new therapy is a life-changing alternative to the deadly epidemic of painkiller addiction.

"We have a statewide epidemic of opioid deaths," said Dr. Gary Witman of Canna Care Docs, which issues medicinal cannabis authorizations in seven states, and has nine clinics in Massachusetts, reports Chris Villani at the Boston Herald. "As soon as we can get people off opioids to a nonaddicting substance -- and medicinal marijuana is nonaddicting -- I think it would dramatically improve the amount of opioid deaths."

Witman said he's treated about 80 patients who were addicted to opioid painkillers, muscle relaxers or anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals, using cannabis with a one-month tapering program. More than 75 percent of those patients stopped taking the harder drugs, according to Witman.

Cannabis can treat the symptoms patients had been using opioids and other drugs to manage, such as chronic pain or anxiety, and treat them far more safely, Witman said.

Dr. Harold Altvater of Delta 9 Medical Consulting in Malden, Mass., agreed that he's also seen success with medicinal cannabis as a substitution therapy. "You are basically taking something that can be very harmful for an individual, and substituting with another chemical, just like you would with any other drug, that has a wider safety margin," he said.

Massachusetts: Sports Announcer Says Marijuana Saved Him From Addiction

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Boston sportscasting legend Bob Lobel is one of hundreds of Massachusetts patients who say they've found a safer and more effective substitute for opioid painkillers by using medical marijuana.

Lobel, 71, a longtime television reporter and anchor, has dealt with chronic pain for years, the result of numerous surgeries, reports Chris Villani at the Boston Herald. He's had two knee replacements, two rotator cuff surgeries, four back surgeries and, at separate times, fracture the tops of both femurs.

"That was brutal," Lobel said of the femur breaks. The constant pain which resulted left him taking handfuls of opioid pills.

"My issue was strictly pain," Lobel said. "I didn't want to take anymore OxyContin or oxycodone or Percocet, for a variety of reasons. The biggest thing I was worried about was addiction. But they also made me tired and it was hard to function and I couldn’t go on TV all drugged up.”

Pure curiosity led him to check out a medical marijuana event several months ago in Boston. While there, he met Dr. Uma Dhanabalan of the Uplifting Health and Wellness clinic in Natick, Mass. Dhanabalan is a strong advocate for patients using cannabis when they might otherwise find themselves addicted to opioids.

Massachusetts: Deadline Looms For Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applications

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Thursday is the deadline for applications to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts. People who want to operate a dispensary must hand-deliver their initial application to the state Department of Public Health.

"The Department has created a solid regulatory framework for this new industry, and now we are ready to move forward with the competitive application process," said DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, reports Christine McConville at the Boston Herald.

"We are committed to a fully transparent process that respects patient needs, while ensuring safe communities," Bartlett said.

Up to 36 dispensaries can open in Massachusetts under the law, approved by voters last November. The outlets will provide cannabis for people with qualifying medical conditions including cancer, Parkinson's disease and AIDS.

Prospective dispensary operators must go through a two-step application procedure. In the first phase, state officials will review each applicant's finances and run background checks. Applicants must report if any member of their organization has had a felony drug conviction.

Applications of those who clear the initial phase will go before a selection committee will review them.

Those who hope to open dispensaries must pay a $1,500 fee as part of the Phase 1 application. If they qualify for Phase 2, they will have to pay another $30,000. Both fees are non-refundable.

Massachusetts: First Marijuana Dispensaries Could Open By Year's End

Illustration: The Daily ChronicBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts could open by the end of this year, according to a timeline released on Friday by the state Department of Public Health.

Draft regulations on the medical use of marijuana in Massachusetts were filed by the DPH, which expects the final regulations to be approved by the Public Health Council and the Secretary of State by the end of May, report Marie Szaniszio and Erin Smith at the Boston Herald.

DPH is expected to start accepting applications from prospective dispensary operators by summer, and continue reviewing shops for license approval through the fall, said Interim Commissioner Dr. Lauren Smith.

"DPH solicited an unprecedented level of input in drafting these regulations to create a medical marijuana system that is right for Massachusetts," Smith said. "In this proposal, we have sought to achieve a balanced approach that will provide appropriate access for patients, while maintaining a secure system that keeps our communities safe." ("Safe" from one of the most non-toxic substances known to man, presumably.)

DPH requires that each nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC), as it calls dispensaries, will operate its own growing facilities. No wholesale distribution of cannabis products will be allowed.

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