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Mass. schedules ‘listening sessions’ to gather public input on medical marijuana rules

Circle the calendar. Massachusetts health officials have set aside three days in February for public “listening sessions” across the state to help them gather opinions and ideas as they craft highly anticipated medical marijuana regulations.

The three-hour sessions will be held in Worcester on Feb. 13; Boston on Feb. 14; and Holyoke on Feb. 27. Each speaker will have up to three minutes to comment.

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Under the November ballot referendum that legalized medical marijuana, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is required to issue regulations on implementing the law by May 1.

The department is seeking input on several specific issues, which are outlined in a flier to be released Wednesday.

Those issues include the criteria for deciding which types of conditions patients must have to be authorized for medical marijuana use; security require­ments for treatment centers; defining the quantity of marijuana that constitutes a 60-day supply; criteria for the use of marijuana in food products for medical purposes; and the requirements for people who apply to cultivate their own marijuana because of finan­cial hardship or lack of reasonable transportation to a dispensary.

“We feel it’s important to hear what the concerns are,” Dr. Lauren Smith, interim public health commissioner, said in an interview Tuesday.

Smith said her department is studying regulations already in place in 17 other states that have approved the use of medical marijuana, but also wants to craft rules that are right for Massa­chusetts.

The Feb. 13 Worcester session will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Worcester Public Library Saxe Room.

The Boston session on Feb. 14 will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Roxbury Community College Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont St. The Feb. 27 Holyoke session will be from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Holyoke Community College Kittredge Business Center, 303 Homestead Ave.

Written comments will be accepted through Feb. 28, at the Department of Public Health, Attention: Medical Marijuana Listening Sessions, 250 Washington St., 2d Floor, Boston, MA 02108.

Kay Lazar can be reached at klazar@globe.com.
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