“Hey hey ho ho Cheryl Bartlett’s got to go”
a dozen-plus patient advocates chanted in front of the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) Headquarters, on Washington Street in Boston, Tuesday, August 1.
About 35 in total patient advocates attended the protest, which I helped to organize. We were there to protest Bartlett, the DPH commissioner, over the 1:1 ratio rule, which states that each caregiver can only serve one patient. The rule was included in the new Mass. Medical Marijuana Regulations, compiled by the Department of Public Health and approved in May by the Public Health Council.
The Department of Public Health statement issued by Spokesperson Anne Roach, in response to the bullhorns and press inquiries, said the regulations “appropriately balance and respect patient needs, while ensuring safe communities.”
Meanwhile, how many hundreds of caregiver services are still open but now underground?
The DPH regulations have now created a bigger, better, local black market of caregivers services who were initially legal and now … not so much.
So how is this safer?
Sending patients to other states to receive caregiver service and access is respecting their needs? So is telling them to wait years potentially for their medicine? Access is gone, except for those who can afford to pay.
Here are some possible next steps for Mass. medical marijuana advocates:
* File lawsuits to challenge DPH actions, concerning regulations versus the law.
* Follow up on the medical marijuana law with others to improve it, similar to what the State of Maine has done. Work on and support Mass. medical marijuana bills filed at the State House to allow all patients to take advantage of caregiver services, to provide new medical marijuana employment and parental protections,
and to allow an affirmative medical marijuana defense.
*Organize more DPH patient protests.
For more coverage of the DPH Protests, check out “Pot Proponents Protest Department’s Oversight of Medical Marijuana Industry” by Steve Annear for Boston Magazine and WBZ Radio’s NightSide with Dan Rea, who I spent two hours with live on WBZ Radio taking calls from medical marijuana patients.
Michael Malta, aka The King of Pot, sums up the protest best:
“We’re not going to take it anymore—bring back the grow and bring back the caregivers. People are dying and have died already. Enough is enough. We’re not going home until us patients get this medicine.”
Medicine that is non-toxic, that is non-addictive, that works miraculously for many patients. It’s worth fighting for.