Editor's note: the following content has been provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
As required by law, summaries are written by the State Attorney General, and the statements describing the effect of a "yes" or "no" vote are written jointly by the State Attorney General and the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
This proposed law would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients. To qualify, a patient must have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV-positive status or AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis. The patient would also have to obtain a written certification, from a physician with whom the patient has a bona fide physician-patient relationship, that the patient has a specific debilitating medical condition and would likely obtain a net benefit from medical use of marijuana.
The proposed law would allow patients to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for their personal medical use. The state Department of Public Health (DPH) would decide what amount would be a 60-day supply. A patient could designate a personal caregiver, at least 21 years old, who could assist with the patient's medical use of marijuana but would be prohibited from consuming that marijuana. Patients and caregivers would have to register with DPH by submitting the physician's certification.
The proposed law would allow for non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers to grow, process and provide marijuana to patients or their caregivers. A treatment center would have to apply for a DPH registration by (1) paying a fee to offset DPH's administrative costs; (2) identifying its location and one additional location, if any, where marijuana would be grown; and (3) submitting operating procedures, consistent with rules to be issued by DPH, including cultivation and storage of marijuana only in enclosed, locked facilities.
A treatment center's personnel would have to register with DPH before working or volunteering at the center, be at least 21 years old, and have no felony drug convictions. In 2013, there could be no more than 35 treatment centers, with at least one but not more than five centers in each county. In later years, DPH could modify the number of centers.
The proposed law would require DPH to issue a cultivation registration to a qualifying patient whose access to a treatment center is limited by financial hardship, physical inability to access reasonable transportation, or distance. This would allow the patient or caregiver to grow only enough plants, in a closed, locked facility, for a 60-day supply of marijuana for the patient's own use.
DPH could revoke any registration for a willful violation of the proposed law. Fraudulent use of a DPH registration could be punished by up to six months in a house of correction or a fine of up to $500, and fraudulent use of a registration for the sale, distribution, or trafficking of marijuana for non-medical use for profit could be punished by up to five years in state prison or by two and one-half years in a house of correction.
The proposed law would (1) not give immunity under federal law or obstruct federal enforcement of federal law; (2) not supersede Massachusetts laws prohibiting possession, cultivation, or sale of marijuana for nonmedical purposes; (3) not allow the operation of a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana; (4) not require any health insurer or government entity to reimburse for the costs of the medical use of marijuana; (5) not require any health care professional to authorize the medical use of marijuana; (6) not require any accommodation of the medical use of marijuana in any workplace, school bus or grounds, youth center, or correctional facility; and (7) not require any accommodation of smoking marijuana in any public place.
The proposed law would take effect January 1, 2013, and states that if any of its part were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.
WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO
A YES VOTE would enact the proposed law eliminating state criminal and civil penalties related to the medical use of marijuana, allowing patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use.
A NO VOTE would make no change in existing laws.
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