For Immediate Release - June 19, 2015

Governor Baker Announces Medical Marijuana To Move Ahead To Sale

One-time waiver granted for limited amounts to be sold, while labs secure more rigorous testing

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker today approved the issuance of a one-time, temporary waiver that will allow the first medical marijuana dispensary to begin selling its product after meeting final inspection protocols.

One of the Commonwealth's first medical marijuana dispensaries, Alternative Therapies Group (ATG) of Salem, MA had requested the waiver because labs in Massachusetts are not yet able to complete the array of quality testing required by Department of Public Health protocols.

“Patients have waited to access marijuana for medical purposes for far too long,” said Governor Baker. “This waiver will allow industry laboratories a little more time to reach full operation while providing safe amounts of medical marijuana for qualifying patients who need it.”

In line with several other leading states, Massachusetts has adopted an aggressive approach when it comes to testing, requiring medical marijuana be examined for cannabinoids, solvents, mycotoxins and other microbiological contaminants along with heavy metals and pesticides.

On the first batch of marijuana submitted for testing by Salem's ATG, the lab was unable to test for 7 of the 18 mandated pesticides, which would make it unable to be sold under state regulations. Under the waiver granted today, marijuana for medical use can be distributed with a label that discloses to the consumer the chemicals that were not tested.

“We are not lowering our standards for the testing of marijuana for medical purposes. Safety is job one,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. “The waiver allows for small amounts of marijuana to be dispensed for medical use while testing facilities ramp up.”

Under the 3-month waiver, ATG may only dispense a maximum of 4.23 ounces of marijuana to any qualifying patient for their sixty-day supply and must provide patients with instructions to consume no more than 2 grams per day. During that time DPH will review the standards for naturally occurring minerals to ensure they are attainable for future dispensaries.

“We carefully considered the initial testing results and we will review the standards going forward,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “We believe these levels provide for patient health protections while allowing the first dispensary to distribute marijuana for medical use as voted on in 2012.”