December 7, 2018

CCC to take oversight of medical marijuana

PHOTO/ZACHARY COMEAU
Customers wait in line to purchase recreational marijuana at Cultivate in Leicester.

Beginning Dec. 23, oversight of the state's medical marijuana program will be transferred from state health officials to state recreational marijuana regulators.

The state Department of Public Health announced the transition in a joint press release Thursday with the Cannabis Control Commission, which has been overseeing the rollout of the state's adult-use industry. That agency will take over regulation and oversight of all cannabis-related businesses in the state.

That transition was outlined in a July 2017 bill updating the state's marijuana laws after Massachusetts residents voted in November 2016 to legalize the use and regulate the sale of cannabis products.

According to the two agencies, medical marijuana patients enrolled in the state's system should not experience any substantial change in their service.

"We have worked very hard to put in place an effective, high-quality, and streamlined medical marijuana program that is focused on patient safety and access," said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel. "We want to assure medical marijuana patients in the commonwealth that we have worked closely with the CCC and our constituents over the past several months to support a smooth transition of the program and to ensure that patient access is not impacted by this change."

State health officials have since 2014 overseen the medical marijuana program, giving approval to 47 registered dispensaries across the state, serving more than 57,000 patients.

The 22-member medical marijuana program staff will become Cannabis Control Commission employees.

In Worcester County, there are three medical marijuana dispensaries: Good Chemistry in Worcester, Curaleaf in Oxford and Cultivate in Leicester, the last of which is just one of two locations east of the Mississippi River open for recreational pot sales.

Cultivate and other companies have said medical patients will continue to be a priority as demand for recreational products results in long lines of customers each day.

Medical patients are allowed to bypass those lines to access their medicine.

Cultivate and New England Treatment Access in Northampton -- the other store open for adult-use sales -- have begun enacting product limits for recreational customers.

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