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Implementing Medical Marijuana Use in Mass.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) — As of January 1, it will be legal to use medical marijuana to treat patients with cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, AIDS, Hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

But Northampton Attorney Mike Cutler who has worked on reform around marijuana prohibition for 25 years said don’t expect it to be available that soon. He said to start, doctors need to be willing to prescribe it since the law does not force them to.

“We found in other states though many patients, particularly those with the serious illnesses, have been coming to doctors and asking them for these permits telling them they’ve been self-medicating for years and that they’re seeking a reliable, safe source of supply, which the law is designed to provide,” said Cutler.

Another factor is that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has to determine regulations for the selection and operation of marijuana dispensaries. They have until May 1, 2013. The law provides for 35 dispensaries with no more than five in any county. Cutler expects marijuana dispensaries to be open sometime in 2014.

“In the meantime, patients are permitted to grow limited quantities and a designated caregiver can assist,” said Cutler.

The amount can be no greater than a 60 day supply.

Insurance companies are not required to pay for the medical marijuana. Cutler said dispensaries can offer sliding price scales for patients depending on their finances.

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