Last week, many of us in the local marijuana reform community were delighted and somewhat astonished to see that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is at long last saying what many of us have been advocating for and reporting on for years. When questioned by a Boston Herald reporter about the role that medical marijuana might play in helping to curb the state’s opiate problem, Baker spoke the truth.
“There is no question that, for certain people, whether you are talking about seizures or ulcers or pain, or cancer, medical marijuana has turned out to be a significantly improved solution for them compared to some of the more traditional solutions like opioids.”
The governor continued, “If there are people out there who would prefer an alternative to an opioid, I think that’s something people should take pretty seriously,” he said.
Also encouraging were statements from a member of Governor Baker’s opioid task force who told the Herald, “We don’t have people jumping from marijuana to heroin. The prescription opioids are a direct link, a precursor to heroin. There’s no denying that.”
In light of these statements, it’s time for the new administration to go beyond their mere acknowledgement of science, and to actually remove the roadblocks that currently deny many legal marijuana patients from gaining access to their medicine. To that end, here are three simple steps through which Baker might better facilitate access for cannabis patients while diminishing the harm and use of opiates:
- Demand that the Department of Public Health lift the 1:1 caregiver-to-patient ratio to 10:2. This would immediately increase options for patients and lower the high cost of legal medicine, the latter of which keeps many patients shopping on the black market. This unfair 1:1 regulation was put in place by the state, and was not part of the initiative passed in 2012, nor is it in line with the the spirit of the law. And the current ratio is hurting patients too. The governor should ask for a change, because clearly, having people purchase cannabis on corners was not what anyone intended.
- Back the Mass Patient Advocacy Alliance bill that would bring patient employment, housing, and parental protections in addition to expanding the caregiver-to-patient ratio from 1:1 to 10:2.
- Endorse and campaign for both marijuana legalization initiatives, or at least for one of them, and if and when they pass, tell those dirty Democrats to leave alone the good intentions of the new law.