MA Cannabis Control Commission – Public Listening Session – My Statement

I’m sitting in a packed room in the Worcester Public Library. People from all walks of life are here to speak to two members of the freshly appointed Cannabis Control Commission. Former state senator Jennifer Flanagan and former Deputy General Counsel to the MA Department of Public Health Kay Doyle are representing the commission today. In a few minutes, I’ll be giving the following statement. Wish me luck! And have a beautiful day! đź’š

Good Morning – My name is Marissa Fratoni. I am a Registered Nurse who advocates for cannabis patients. I work with women who are recovering from substance abuse. I would like the Cannabis Control Commission to consider the serious epidemic of drug addiction that impacts our community. The widespread devastation and loss that has resulted from the colossal failure that is drug addiction treatment. Abstinence programs don’t work, rehab is affordable for very few. We are losing the battle against drug addiction. Every day our communities lose a few more people to this horrific disease. There are many health providers like me who believe that cannabis is a game-changer in the substance abuse/treatment space. There is enough data available which proves that cannabis treatment is a feasible and effective alternative to current mainstream drug addiction treatment.

I am here to ask that the Cannabis Control Commission view cannabis treatment and therapy as a solution to the opioid epidemic, not as a threat to the public. With proper education in the schools, in cannabis businesses, in the medical marijuana dispensaries, and in the larger community, cannabis is really the least of the public’s health problems. It is safer than all pharmaceutical meds, safer than most over the counter medications. It is safer than water. It is not just another substance that needs to be controlled.

I have seen time and time again how it promotes healing in the human body. I have encountered patients who have only seen an improvement in their quality of life when the proper access to this medicine is made available.

To this end, safe access to cannabis up until now has proved to be nothing short of challenging and disappointing. The patients who need this medicine the most cannot access it. The patients who are disabled, chronically ill, and on fixed incomes cannot afford to travel to one of the 12 dispensaries currently open. And many do not have the resources or energy to grow their own medicine. 

The Department of Public Health has largely failed to carry out the amendments that would facilitate access and cannabis administration to the patients who need this medicine the most – the patients who are in medical, nursing, hospice and long-term care facilities. These patients need and deserve safe access now.

In closing, I just want to remind the Commission that cannabis is medicine. Cannabis heals. And healing is a right, it is not a privilege. The Cannabis Control Commission has the opportunity to really help the people of this great state. Please don’t squander this opportunity. Please carry out the will of the voters. Let’s get this right. The people who are suffering the most need us to get this right. 

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