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Frustration builds amongst Mass. medical marijuana advocates

Activists want the state's medical marijuana law to be implemented and say people are suffering while the state drags its feet.

A pro medical marijuana rally was held outside the Department Public of Health building in Boston yesterday. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki, Metro A pro medical marijuana rally was held outside the Department Public of Health building in Boston yesterday. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki, Metro

There were two car accidents. The first, in 2011, was where Nichole Snow struck the windshield with her head and shoulders. The second, in 2013, was where she hyperextended her neck from the whiplash.

Pain from those injuries 33-year-old Salem resident to retire from telecommunications. She was prescribed painkillers, but she says such meds made her sick.

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"I was put on so much Ibuprofen to the point where it poisoned me and I got sick," she said.

Now, she among those pushing hard for the state to implement its medical marijuana law, an initiative 63 percent of voters passed in 2012.

Snow says medical marijuana would help ease her pain. Now, with the Department of Public Health failing to implement the law, Snow says she is at times forced to find the drug on the black market.

"I'm not medicated and I'm hurting," she said recently. "Waking up could take a couple hours. When I'm able to find medical cannabis, I can function better."

Snow was among the dozens of protesters outside of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's downtown Boston offices late Tuesday morning.They want the state's medical marijuana law to be implemented and say people are suffering while the state drags its feet.

Implementing the law, said Mickey Martin, an activist and consultant, would decrease opiate use and overdoses.The protesters carried signs reading "It is evil to deny sick people medical marijuana" and "I am a patient, not a criminal."

Others suggested state residents who are currently seeking to soothe pain with medical marijuana are being driven to the black market.

Chris Foye, a representative of the Massachusetts chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), said "People are getting the medicine whether you do the right thing or not."

John Polanowicz, the state's Secretary of Health and Human Services, through a statement said marijuana dispensaries are in the final "inspection phase" prior to opening and added that "safe patient access" is a priority. Some may be open by the end of the year, he said.

Tuesday morning, the protesters did not seem to be in the mood to wait or abide explanations. Bill Downey, a medical marijuana activist, said if DPH "had any guts" they would have implemented the law by now.

"DPH move now!" he yelled.

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