Questions linger over Mass. medical marijuana law

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January 2, 2013, 6:31 pm
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(NECN: Ally Donnelly) - On Election Day, 63 percent of Mass. voters supported legalizing the use of medical marijuana, but for police, cities and towns, enforcement of that use is far less clear - just ask Woburn Police Chief Robert Ferullo.

"What is a 60 day supply? What is a medical card look like? What do they need to do to get the medical card? How are my guys on the street supposed to enforce laws like that, where the ground rules aren't laid out yet?" Chief Ferullo says.

The law allows for the possession and use of up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for people with cancer, Parkinson's disease, AIDS and other conditions approved by a doctor. Though the law went into effect Tuesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has 120 days to come up with regulations to implement the law and try to prevent abuse.

So what would happen if a person is pulled over with marijuana in the car - would the officer ask to see a doctor's note?

"Somehow we're gonna have to ask you if you have a doctor's note," Chief Ferullo says. "How do you know that whatever note I present to you is legit? We could look that maybe it's on a prescription pad, maybe we could reach out to the doctor -- we could do some sort of follow up there depending upon the seriousness of the issue."

"It's a grey zone and we need it to be clarified pretty quickly," Geoff Beckwith, head of the non-profit Massachusetts Municipal Association, says.

The group wants the legislature to impose a six month delay in implementing the new law.

"This law was passed by the voters and there's no attempt to repeal it, but it's going to be very complicated and cities and towns need time to make decisions," Beckwith says.

With the legalization of medical marijuana will come dispensaries, where patients can buy the drug. In the first year, the law allows for up to 35 non-profit treatment centers across the state with at least one, but no more than five centers per county.

"If there's a dispensary that comes into the community, where will it be located? Would it be located near a school? What about communities that are primarily residential that don't have industrial zones where a facility like that might be okay?" Beckwith asks. "Under the law right now, someone can go to a physician or someone to get a recommendation and if dispensaries aren't located they can start to actually start to grow their own."

DPH issued a statement telling us that no dispensaries will be allowed to open until its regulations are in effect. A handful of cities and towns have already changed their zoning laws to try and bar them all together.

Tags: Ally Donnelly, Massachusetts medical marijuana, Massachusetts Department of Public Health medical marijuana, Massachusetts Department of Public Health medical marijuana regulations, Geoff Beckwith, Massachusetts Municipal Association
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