Will Mass ban medibles?

Burning Questions
By VALERIE VANDE PANNE  |  March 13, 2013


Will the Massachusetts Medical Society be successful in requesting that the Department of Public Health ban medibles?

"Medibles" are medical-marijuana edibles — foods that can come in any number of forms, from candies, cookies, brownies, and lollipops to lasagna, soup, and tea. Consuming cannabis in this manner is a preferred method for patients who do not wish to smoke, such as those suffering from lung cancer.

When I contacted the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS), the spokesperson I talked to seemed surprised by the medibles question, and said that MMS had made no such request to the DPH. I was referred instead to the concerns MMS did express at a recent DPH "listening session" held at Roxbury Community College.

There, MMS suggested that, among other requirements, doctors should hold an active license from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine in order to certify medical-marijuana patients. They also expressed concern that the medical-marijuana initiative is "overly broad in its authorizations for certifying a debilitating medical condition" and that the only patients who should be certified are those who, in the physician's assessment, have "symptoms of spasticity, neuropathic pain, or other symptoms that are not optimally controlled with conventional medical therapy." They recommended that patient certifications should become a part of the state's Prescription Monitoring Program, and that young people under the age of 18 should require parental or guardian consent to use medical marijuana.

MMS also asked questions regarding appropriate dosages, the duration of certifications, the amount of an appropriate supply, and nonprofit criteria for dispensaries, among other concerns.

The society's president, Dr. Richard Aghababian, says that MMS has "historically been opposed to medical marijuana because it has not been subjected to the same rigorous, scientific testing (clinical trials) that other medicines are required to go through." (Due to marijuana's status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the federal government does not recognize its therapeutic value, making the very studies Aghababian wants to see virtually impossible to conduct.)

Aghababian did add that "anecdotal evidence suggests that some patients may benefit" from medical marijuana.

Nowhere did I find that MMS is worried about medibles specifically. According to wickedlocal.com reports, however, Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) has expressed concerns directly to Governor Deval Patrick over "the including of marijuana in food and beverages."

Certainly, most people do not want to unintentionally eat cannabis-laced food — nor do patients want to accidentally take too little, or too much, of a dose. Reputable manufacturers out West have taken steps to insure the safety and dosages of their products.

Steve DeAngelo is co-founder and executive director of Harborside Health Center, a California dispensary that distributes medibles in a wide range of forms: cookies, lozenges, tinctures, capsules, and sublingual sprays — in all, 150 different non-smoked forms of cannabis. When it comes to the medibles, DeAngelo says, Harborside's policy is that packaging must not be appealing to children, and must be packaged so that children or pets cannot open it. Every item is labeled appropriately as containing cannabis. Each product has a batch number, "so if there are problems we can trace it back to the kitchen," he says. "All of our products are tested. The majority are labeled with the amount of THC per dose, and the dose is defined as well in milligrams of THC and/or CBD [cannabidiol] per dose."

So while at this time there are questions and concerns being raised by MMS, concerns over medibles is not on that list. And the questions posed by MPHA can be easily addressed by following, and perhaps even improving upon, other medical-marijuana states' lead.

GOT A BURNING QUESTION? Email it to  valerie@valerievandepanne.com or tweet it to @asktheduchess.

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  Topics: News Features , Medical Marijuana, Massachusetts Medical Society, MMS
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