Let patients grow

Hardship medical cannabis cultivators face new obstacles

By Peter C. Bernard

Cultivation for medical cannabis patients has been, to date, something that anyone with a medical cannabis card has been able to do without a numerically defined plant count. Under a hardship provision in the law, never enforced by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, allows for a cardholder to cultivate more than the 6/12 limit adult use laws allow.

The problem is, the DPH never wrote any regulations around hardship cultivation. Instead they issued a memo stating that anyone with a card could cultivate under hardship. This was done before Question 4 was anything but a dream. Law enforcement railed against it and continued to bust people cultivating under the law. I personally know some folks who were subjects in these kinds of cases. Their grows were trashed. Their houses and lives were turned upside down. They got the opportunity to help some lawyers make Porsche payments.

Then Question 4 came along and allowed even more people to grow weed. Walpole Chief John Carmichael must have had a throw down scream out loud temper tantrum over that one. Question 4 made it worse for hardship cultivators. Law enforcement started using the adult use limits to trash medical grows, completely ignoring the still-in-effect DPH memo. You see, people like our good friend Chief Carmichael would take away everyone’s home grow rights, no matter what the reason you’re growing. Got cancer? Tough luck. Got epilepsy? Too bad, so sad. Got chronic pain? Shut up and go eat your opiates.

The Cannabis Control Commission is looking at something that would effectively end hardship cultivation for medical patients. You probably haven’t seen it, because mostly only nerds like me actually read the regulations, but there’s some interesting language in the newest set of cannabis regulations released this fall. There is a whole section on hardship cultivation for patients, and it isn’t pretty. You start off with a $100 license fee, annually. Yes, I said license. You have to submit a grow plan. You have to let someone from the Commonwealth inspect your grow space. You have to agree to inspections whenever the Commonwealth feels like making one (but hey, they give you notice so its all right). Oh and you get to let the police into your house any time they feel like maybe you’re selling weed.

Did I mention that Chief Carmichael is on the Cannabis Advisory Board and helped develop the language? Oh yeah. There’s that.

Hardship cultivation should be as simple as registering with the CCC. Considering financial reasons will ultimately be the only qualifier left, a license fee is stupid. For that matter, trying to regulate a home grow like a licensed cultivation facility is stupid, too. These regulations seem to be designed to nullify medical hardship cultivation. In this way, prohibitionists can destroy medical hardship via unreasonable and impractical regulations. It puts Chief Carmichael one step closer to his dream of eradicating all home grows.

Hardship cultivation should be as simple as registering with the CCC. Considering financial reasons will ultimately be the only qualifier left, a license fee is stupid. For that matter, trying to regulate a home grow like a licensed cultivation facility is stupid, too. These regulations seem to be designed to nullify medical hardship cultivation. In this way, prohibitionists can destroy medical hardship via unreasonable and impractical regulations. It puts Chief Carmichael one step closer to his dream of eradicating all home grows.

What can you do, you ask? You can let the CCC know how you feel about it. You can drop them a line end let them know that they can’t regulate a home grow like it was a licensed commercial grow. Remind them that hardship cultivation isn’t a license type. Most of all, remind them that thousands of people rely on hardship cultivation for their medication. Remind them that the people voted, and the prohibitionists lost. Remind Chief Carmichael that he is a law enforcement officer, not a legislator.

Here is how you can reach the CCC. Tell them I said hello!

https://mass-cannabis-control.com/contact/

Peter C. Bernard is a medical cannabis patient, the president of the Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council, and a contributor to midnightmass.substack.com and The Young Jurks. You can listen to The Young Jurks on itunes or wherever else podcasts are streamed. This article was produced with support from Midnight Mass and The Young Jurks, where your contributions are greatly appreciated and help us deliver more local coverage.