Amendment 64's Brian Vicente spreading state's medical marijuana message to Massachusetts

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

After the passage of Amendment 64, opportunities abounded for its main proponents, Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente. But while Tvert said he had no immediate plans to spread the gospel about the measure to other states, despite being invited to do so in California by HBO's Bill Maher, Vicente is branching out, opening a law office in Massachusetts, which just legalized medical marijuana. And he'll be in the state tonight for an MMJ event.

"We're doing a free seminar," Vicente notes. The topic revolves around Question 3, the MMJ initiative approved by Massachusetts voters earlier this month; see the full text below. In Vicente's words, "we'll address what it means for patients, what it means for caregivers, and ultimately what it means for potential business owners."

The new office of Vicente Sederberg, LLC, is based in the Boston area, with Shaleen Title the attorney who'll be based there full time. Here's a video featuring Title:

Vicente decided to head east due in large part to the approval of Question 3, which he knows from the inside out. "I was actually consulted on the language," he says, "and we feel like the language is quite strong. It's closer to a one-size-fits-all medical marijuana law that allows patients to use marijuana and also allows a limited number of stores to be set up...35 to start, and additional stores can be added as the population demands."

Another advantage of Question 3, from Vicente's perspective, is that it allows the use of medical marijuana "for any condition doctors feel is appropriate. And that includes post-traumatic stress disorder."

This mention isn't coincidental. Vicente has lobbied for PTSD to be added to Colorado's medical marijuana regulations as a condition that can be treated by MMJ -- but his entreaties have been rejected by the state Board of Health, which must approve additions to the approved list. That's not the case in Massachusetts, though. "The power is in the doctor's hands," Vicente says.

The result, he believes, offers the best of both MMJ worlds -- "a California-style model in terms of being open-ended about what patient conditions qualify, with a Colorado-style regulatory structure. So I think it's a really strong law."

Although Vicente will be splitting his time between Colorado and Massachusetts, at least in the short run, he stresses that "my primary focus will be on the implementation of Amendment 64." However, he goes on, "we saw a real opportunity to spread the Colorado model of medical marijuana in Massachusetts for patients and business owners."

Continue for information about tonight's free seminar in Massachusetts, as well as the complete text of Question 3. Press release about tonight's event in Massachusetts:

First-Ever Seminars on Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Law

Presented by Legal Experts and Law Enforcement Group

Seminars Will Answer Questions for Potential Patients and Discuss Business Opportunities

WHAT: Now that Massachusetts voters have approved a new medical marijuana program, attorneys and law enforcement officers are holding seminars aimed at helping potential patients and business owners understand the new law. These seminars will explore all facets of the new law, including business basics and patient rights. Massachusetts and Colorado attorneys will explain the process of applying for, opening and running a medical marijuana business including sharing best practices from Colorado and other states. The first seminar is free and open to the public.

WHEN: Thursday, November 29, 6:00-8:00pm

WHERE: Cambridge Community Center, Community Room, 5 Callender Street, Cambridge

WHY: With only 35 licenses to be issued in Massachusetts, competition is expected to be fierce. "With 17 other medical marijuana states to learn from, Massachusetts medical marijuana businesses have the opportunity to be some of the most effective and responsible treatment centers in the country," said Shaleen Title, an attorney who directs the Massachusetts office of Vicente Sederberg. "These seminars will share the most successful practices for serving patients and communities."

In addition to business tips, the first seminar will cover how people with debilitating health conditions can become state-legal medical marijuana patients. A former MA state trooper from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Karen Hawkes, will show potential patients how to respectfully assert their legal rights during law enforcement encounters.

"The people of Massachusetts voted overwhelmingly for marijuana to be treated as a medicine," said Hawkes, who left law enforcement due to a stroke and chronic pain. "We hope to provide guidance so that medical marijuana patients are treated like any other patient and allowed to use their medicine in a safe and private way under a doctor's care."

An advanced seminar for potential business owners covering application tips, financials and more will be held on December 13, 2012. These seminars take place just weeks before the medical marijuana law takes effect on January 1, 2013.

More about the presenters:

Vicente Sederberg, LLC is the only national medical marijuana law firm dedicated to offering legal solutions for the medical marijuana community, specializing in business law, licenses, permits, and compliance. It has assisted in the formation -- and guided the compliant operation -- of hundreds of medical marijuana businesses. Its Boston office is now open. More info at www.MassMedicalMarijuana.com.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who fought on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learned firsthand that punitive prohibitionist policies only serve to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

Full text of Question 3:

Be It Enacted By The People And By Their Authority:

Section 1. Purpose and Intent.

The citizens of Massachusetts intend that there should be no punishment under state law for qualifying patients, physicians and health care professionals, personal caregivers for patients, or medical marijuana treatment center agents for the medical use of marijuana, as defined herein.

Section 2. As used in this Law, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:

(A) "Card holder" shall mean a qualifying patient, a personal caregiver, or a dispensary agent of a medical marijuana treatment center who has been issued and possesses a valid registration card.

(B) "Cultivation registration" shall mean a registration issued to a medical marijuana treatment center for growing marijuana for medical use under the terms of this Act, or to a qualified patient or personal caregiver under the terms of Section 11.

(C) "Debilitating medical condition" shall mean: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient's physician.

(D) "Department" shall mean the Department of Public Health of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

(E) "Dispensary agent" shall mean an employee, staff volunteer, officer, or board member of a non-profit medical marijuana treatment center, who shall be at least twenty-one (21) years of age.

(F) "Enclosed, locked facility" shall mean a closet, room, greenhouse, or other area equipped with locks or other security devices, accessible only to dispensary agents, patients, or personal caregivers.

(G) "Marijuana," has the meaning given "marihuana" in Chapter 94C of the General Laws.

(H) "Medical marijuana treatment center" shall mean a not-for-profit entity, as defined by Massachusetts law only, registered under this law, that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to qualifying patients or their personal caregivers.

(I) "Medical use of marijuana" shall mean the acquisition, cultivation, possession, processing, (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfer, transportation, sale, distribution, dispensing, or administration of marijuana, for the benefit of qualifying patients in the treatment of debilitating medical conditions, or the symptoms thereof.

(J) "Personal caregiver" shall mean a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana. Personal caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use of the qualifying patient.

An employee of a hospice provider, nursing, or medical facility providing care to a qualifying patient may also serve as a personal caregiver.

(K) "Qualifying patient" shall mean a person who has been diagnosed by a licensed physician as having a debilitating medical condition.

(L) "Registration card" shall mean a personal identification card issued by the Department to a qualifying patient, personal caregiver, or dispensary agent. The registration card shall verify that a physician has provided a written certification to the qualifying patient, that the patient has designated the individual as a personal caregiver, or that a medical treatment center has met the terms of Section 9 and Section 10 of this law. The registration card shall identify for the Department and law enforcement those individuals who are exempt from Massachusetts criminal and civil penalties for conduct pursuant to the medical use of marijuana.

(M) "Sixty-day supply" means that amount of marijuana that a qualifying patient would reasonably be expected to need over a period of sixty days for their personal medical use.

(N) "Written certification" means a document signed by a licensed physician, stating that in the physician's professional opinion, the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient. Such certification shall be made only in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship and shall specify the qualifying patient's debilitating medical condition(s).

Section 3. Protection from State Prosecution and Penalties for Health Care Professionals

A physician, and other health care professionals under a physician's supervision, shall not be penalized under Massachusetts law, in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for:

(a) Advising a qualifying patient about the risks and benefits of medical use of marijuana; or

(b) Providing a qualifying patient with written certification, based upon a full assessment of the qualifying patient's medical history and condition, that the medical use of marijuana may benefit a particular qualifying patient.

Section 4. Protection From State Prosecution and Penalties for Qualifying Patients and Personal Caregivers

Any person meeting the requirements under this law shall not be penalized under Massachusetts law in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for such actions.

A qualifying patient or a personal caregiver shall not be subject to arrest or prosecution, or civil penalty, for the medical use of marijuana provided he or she:

(a) Possesses no more marijuana than is necessary for the patient's personal, medical use, not exceeding the amount necessary for a sixty-day supply; and

(b) Presents his or her registration card to any law enforcement official who questions the patient or caregiver regarding use of marijuana.

Section 5. Protection From State Prosecution and Penalties for Dispensary Agents.

A dispensary agent shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or civil penalty, under Massachusetts law, for actions taken under the authority of a medical marijuana treatment center, provided he or she:

(a) Presents his or her registration card to any law enforcement official who questions the agent concerning their marijuana related activities; and

(b) Is acting in accordance with all the requirements of this law.

Section 6. Protection Against Forfeiture and Arrest

(A) The lawful possession, cultivation, transfer, transport, distribution, or manufacture of medical marijuana as authorized by this law shall not result in the forfeiture or seizure of any property.

(B) No person shall be arrested or prosecuted for any criminal offense solely for being in the presence of medical marijuana or its use as authorized by this law.

Section 7. Limitations of Law

(A) Nothing in this law allows the operation of a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana.

(B) Nothing in this law requires any health insurance provider, or any government agency or authority, to reimburse any person for the expenses of the medical use of marijuana.

(C) Nothing in this law requires any health care professional to authorize the use of medical marijuana for a patient.

(D) Nothing in this law requires any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of employment, school bus or on school grounds, in any youth center, in any correctional facility, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.

(E) Nothing in this law supersedes Massachusetts law prohibiting the possession, cultivation, transport, distribution, or sale of marijuana for nonmedical purposes.

(F) Nothing in this law requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.

(G) Nothing in this law poses an obstacle to federal enforcement of federal law.

Section 8. Department to define presumptive 60-day supply for qualifying patients.

Within 120 days of the effective date of this law, the department shall issue regulations defining the quantity of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be a sixty-day supply for qualifying patients, based on the best available evidence. This presumption as to quantity may be overcome with evidence of a particular qualifying patient's appropriate medical use.

Section 9. Registration of nonprofit medical marijuana treatment centers.

(A) Medical marijuana treatment centers shall register with the department.

(B) Not later than ninety days after receiving an application for a nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center, the department shall register the nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center to acquire, process, possess, transfer, transport, sell, distribute, dispense, and administer marijuana for medical use, and shall also issue a cultivation registration if:

1. The prospective nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center has submitted:

(a) An application fee in an amount to be determined by the department consistent with Section 13 of this law.

(b) An application, including:

(i) The legal name and physical address of the treatment center and the physical address of one additional location, if any, where marijuana will be cultivated.

(ii) The name, address and date of birth of each principal officer and board member.

(c) Operating procedures consistent with department rules for oversight, including cultivation and storage of marijuana only in enclosed, locked facilities.

2. None of the principal officers or board members has served as a principal officer or board member for a medical marijuana treatment center that has had its registration certificate revoked.

(C) In the first year after the effective date, the Department shall issue registrations for up to thirty-five non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers, provided that at least one treatment center shall be located in each county, and not more than five shall be located in any one county. In the event the Department determines in a future year that the number of treatment centers is insufficient to meet patient needs, the Department shall have the power to increase or modify the number of registered treatment centers.

(D) A medical treatment center registered under this section, and its dispensary agents registered under Section 10, shall not be penalized or arrested under Massachusetts law for acquiring, possessing, cultivating, processing, transferring, transporting, selling, distributing, and dispensing marijuana, products containing marijuana, and related supplies and educational materials, to qualifying patients or their personal caregivers.

Section 10. Registration of medical treatment center dispensary agents.

(A) A dispensary agent shall be registered with the Department before volunteering or working at a medical marijuana treatment center.

(B) A treatment center must apply to the Department for a registration card for each affiliated dispensary agent by submitting the name, address and date of birth of the agent.

(C) A registered nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center shall notify the department within one business day if a dispensary agent ceases to be associated with the center, and the agent's registration card shall be immediately revoked.

(D) No one shall be a dispensary agent who has been convicted of a felony drug offense. The Department is authorized to conduct criminal record checks with the Department of Criminal Justice Information to enforce this provision.

Section 11. Hardship Cultivation Registrations.

The Department shall issue a cultivation registration to a qualifying patient whose access to a medical treatment center is limited by verified financial hardship, a physical incapacity to access reasonable transportation, or the lack of a treatment center within a reasonable distance of the patient's residence. The Department may deny a registration based on the provision of false information by the applicant. Such registration shall allow the patient or the patient's personal caregiver to cultivate a limited number of plants, sufficient to maintain a 60-day supply of marijuana, and shall require cultivation and storage only in an enclosed, locked facility.

The department shall issue regulations consistent with this section within 120 days of the effective date of this law. Until the department issues such final regulations, the written recommendation of a qualifying patient's physician shall constitute a limited cultivation registration.

Section 12. Medical marijuana registration cards for qualifying patients and designated caregivers.

(A) A qualifying patient may apply to the department for a medical marijuana registration card by submitting:

1. Written certification from a physician.

2. An application, including:

(a) Name, address unless homeless, and date of birth.

(b) Name, address and date of birth of the qualifying patient's personal caregiver, if any.

Section 13. Department implementation of Regulations and Fees.

Within 120 days of the effective date of this law, the department shall issue regulations for the implementation of Sections 9 through 12 of this Law. The department shall set application fees for non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers so as to defray the administrative costs of the medical marijuana program and thereby make this law revenue neutral.

Until the approval of final regulations, written certification by a physician shall constitute a registration card for a qualifying patient. Until the approval of final regulations, a certified mail return receipt showing compliance with Section 12 (A) (2) (b) above by a qualifying patient, and a photocopy of the application, shall constitute a registration card for that patient's personal caregiver.

Section 14. Penalties for Fraudulent Acts.

(A) The department, after a hearing, may revoke any registration card issued under this law for a willful violation of this law. The standard of proof for revocation shall be a preponderance of the evidence. A revocation decision shall be reviewable in the Superior Court.

(B) The fraudulent use of a medical marijuana registration card or cultivation registration shall be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in the house of correction, or a fine up to $500, but if such fraudulent use is for the distribution, sale, or trafficking of marijuana for non-medical use for profit it shall be a felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison or up to two and one half years in the house of correction.

Section 15. Confidentiality

The department shall maintain a confidential list of the persons issued medical marijuana registration cards. Individual names and other identifying information on the list shall be exempt from the provisions of Massachusetts Public Records Law, M.G.L. Chapter 66, section 10, and not subject to disclosure, except to employees of the department in the course of their official duties and to Massachusetts law enforcement officials when verifying a card holder's registration.

Section 16. Effective Date.

This law shall be effective January 1, 2013.

Section 17. Severability.

The provisions of this law are severable and if any clause, sentence, paragraph or section of this measure, or an application thereof, shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or invalidate the remainder thereof but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, section or application adjudged invalid.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Amendment 64's Brian Vicente on how act might be challenged, why he doubts it will be."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.