By Colin A. Younger
State Home Information Service
JUNE 29, 2021…..After lawmakers ran out of time to totally take into account the concept final session, the Joint Committee on Hashish Coverage on Tuesday revived its consideration of laws that seeks to make medical marijuana extra accessible to disabled veterans.
Testifying in favor as soon as once more was Stephen Mandile, an Military veteran, Uxbridge selectman and longtime medical marijuana advocate who stated he used hashish to finish a decade of habit to opioids prescribed to deal with ache from accidents he sustained in Iraq in 2005. A string of different veterans and hashish activists additionally touted the invoice at Tuesday’s listening to.
The invoice (H 179 / S 70) filed by Rep. Michael Soter and Sen. Ryan Fattman would primarily increase the present eligibility standards for medical marijuana and likewise create a manner that disabled veterans who obtain their well being care at a federal Veterans Administration facility — and whose medical doctors due to this fact can’t legally advocate a medical marijuana prescription — might change into eligible.
Whereas anybody 21 or older should buy non-medical marijuana in Massachusetts, registered medical marijuana sufferers wouldn’t have to pay the efficient 20 % tax that’s levied on non-medical gross sales, have entry to greater THC dosages for edible merchandise, and might obtain reductions from retailers and dispensaries.
Below Soter’s invoice, veterans who get their care on the VA could possibly be thought-about qualifying sufferers underneath the state’s medical marijuana regulation with out receiving a prognosis from a registered doctor if they supply their Veterans Administration award letter “indicating an current incapacity” to the Hashish Management Fee. Soter stated Illinois and North Dakota already settle for VA paperwork in lieu of a health care provider’s advice.
“The intent of this invoice is to permit veterans to submit their Veterans Well being Administration paperwork, which confirms having a qualifying situation, [and] eradicating out-of-pocket prices that veterans are required to spend to be able to get a medical card, which is reported because the third-greatest barrier reported by veteran respondents behind price and entry to the suitable merchandise,” Mandile informed the committee.
Soter’s invoice would add post-traumatic stress dysfunction and opioid use dysfunction to the checklist of debilitating medical situations that make somebody, veteran or not, eligible to be a medical marijuana affected person.
“Presently, Massachusetts is the one state in New England with out post-traumatic stress dysfunction as a qualifying situation. New Mexico was the primary state to particularly checklist PTSD as a qualifying situation in 2009 and, since then, over 25 states have included PTSD as a qualifying situation,” the consultant informed the committee Tuesday.
Soter’s invoice obtained a listening to earlier than the Hashish Coverage Committee final session, within the weeks simply earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic upended the Legislature’s work. Senate Chair Sonia Chang-Diaz stated the committee ran out of time to totally vet the concept final session however heard considerations about separating remedy utilizing medical marijuana from a well being care supplier.
“One of many push-backs that we heard when asking for enter from completely different stakeholders on this laws was the concern of veteran sufferers who’re affected by PTSD or different potential maladies for which hashish is likely to be an acceptable remedy, separating them from the medical consideration and counseling that … a non-veteran medical affected person would usually have with their major care supplier,” she stated. Chang-Diaz added, “That was the priority about this. When you’re getting your care on the VA, however the VA just isn’t allowed to take part in kind of structuring the care plan round use of hashish.”
Mandile informed Chang-Diaz that his VA physician is conscious of and approves of his hashish use and “would reasonably me have that than the fentanyl that they will supply me.”
“They’re allowed and inspired to debate this stuff and work on a person foundation … with every affected person in ensuring that they know that they’re not going to lose advantages for being registered of their state marijuana program and assist them get as shut as they will to the place they need to be with out having to signal paperwork,” he stated, citing a VHA directive.