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Quincy senator files bill to restructure medical marijuana law
BOSTON — Team 5 Investigates first exposed questionable practices at local medical marijuana clinics in November.
Team 5 Investigates’ Kathy Curran has learned when it comes to enforcement and oversight, there’s very little being done to regulate the industry right now.
“It’s wrong, purely and simply, it’s wrong,” said Sen. John Keenan, D-Quincy, chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on Public Health.
Keenan is troubled by what Team 5 Investigates’ undercover investigation into Canna Car Docs discovered last fall.
With $200 in hand, a potential patient with a physical injury walked into their South Boston clinic for the first time and walked out with a recommendation for medical marijuana in just 20 minutes.
The office staff put the patient’s name on the recommendation before she even saw the physician and the doctor on duty, Dr. H. Scott Breen, never examined the injury that brought her to the clinic.
“They didn’t ask for any medical records, any X-rays and any MRI’s?” asked Team 5’s Curran.
“No, none of the above,” said the patient, whose identity Team 5 Investigates agreed to protect.
“I thought it was pretty easy, shockingly so, to think you can just walk in and within 20 minutes all of that was done and I was able to walk out with a certificate, good to go.”
“That would not be acceptable under DPH regulations related to medical marijuana and if that person was employed by a Department of Public Health licensed facility, we would certainly take action,” said Dr. Madeline Biondolillo, director of health care safety and quality.
But because the company isn’t licensed by the Department, when it comes to enforcement, there’s not much they can do. “Right now, we can only do what we have authority to do,” said Biondolillo.
Currently the state has no idea who’s writing these recommendations or who’s receiving medical marijuana, because of the nature of the law and the fact that the state’s system isn’t fully up and running. It’s been that way since doctors began writing recommendations allowing patients to grow their own pot in January 2013.
“I just think we’re going to regret where we’re heading with medical marijuana,” said Keenan.
“Would you say the cart was before the horse?” asked Curran.
“Yes, and I think it still is, despite the best efforts of DPH, and I think they’ve done a very good job. They’ve come up with regulations that I think are better than a lot of other states but despite that, I think the cart is before the horse,” said Keenan. Keenan points to loopholes and weak legislation that are fueling the problem and he’s filed legislation to restructure the medical marijuana law.
Team 5 has also learned the Department is working with Canna Care Docs to determine any necessary licensing requirements.
In a written statement, a representative for Canna Care Docs said the company is working to obtain licenses for its clinics from DPH and in the interim, the company is operating with the state’s full knowledge. The company also told us last fall that all of their current doctors are fully licensed and in good standing.