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Medical marijuana in Massachusetts is a mess

The implementation of the medical marijuana law in Massachusetts is a mess. No one should be surprised. The law was passed in November, 2013, despite strong opposition from many in the Commonwealth. The state Department of Public Health was given the task of implementing the law. This may be seen as a continuation of the resistance to the law as this government agency may have been the least prepared to cope with a project of this magnitude.

Things have gone downhill from there. The vetting process was complicated and at times confusing. Although it resulted in acceptance of 20 clinics, further examination resulted in the rescission of nearly half these original permissions. Problems noted in the applications included misrepresentation of local support, omission of ones investor’s drug conviction and the potential to divert revenues from the non-profit clinics to for profit affiliates.

One of the beneficiaries of this reverse is New England Treatment Access, Inc., an organization with strong roots in Denver, Colorado that brings proven experience in the development and operation of medical marijuana clinics. New England Treatment Access was originally awarded licenses to operate clinics in Northampton and Brookline, the only applicant to receive approval for two licenses.

Of course, it is well noted that the Colorado program is deeply flawed but it is the longest running of the state programs.
Reports from Colorado include “growing numbers of children and adults sickened by potent doses of edible marijuana” and law enforcement officials in other states complaining that stoned drivers are traveling from Colorado and causes problems across the borders. Although it is noted that crime is down in the state since implementation of the law, emergency room visits by children who have ingested marijuana products has risen. Colorado authorities are also dealing with an increase in house explosions caused by amateur chemists trying to use pot to make THC-rich hash oil in their homes. Other reports note that it is amazingly simple to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana with prescriptions being written for such non-cannabis treated afflictions such as athletes’ foot and obesity.

New England Treatment Access’s problem is that their CEO at the time of application, Kevin Fisher appeared to have misrepresented some facts on his resume. For example, he claimed to hold a degree from Youngstown State University attained in 1998. That college disputes his claim and states he never received a degree there although he did attend. Fisher explained that he had a lot of things going in his personal life at the time that distracted him. Fisher also states on his resume that he is the Board Chair of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group. This is confirmed by an industry web site.

As integrity is a valued element in the entire medical marijuana movement, an over-site such as Fisher’s can speak volumes for an organization’s overall approach. For some people a mistaken listing on a resume should not be a big deal but in this case it is. Besides, he has had almost 20 years to make a correction. Fisher resigned last week.