Our Opinion: Marijuana clinic haze


Greeneway Wellness Foundation of Kingston, which received a positive recommendation Tuesday from Pittsfield's Community Development Board for a medical marijuana dispensary at Downing Parkway, appears to be a sound organization with a responsible plan. But while the company may work well in Pittsfield, there are still state and federal issues clouding the dispensary picture.

The nonprofit created by John Greene was one of the six nonprofits provisionally approved by the state Department of Public Health on the condition that they locate in a region that did not receive a licensed facility in the first round of approvals. That would include the Berk shires, and interestingly, Mr. Greene was re presented before the board by Nial De Mena, one of the three principals of Man na Wellness, which was denied a license in Pittsfield. Manna is appealing that decision and would seem to have good grounds given the state's failure to adequately scrutinize the backgrounds of some of the companies that won licenses. There was an apparent eastern bias in the awarding of licenses, as well as political favoritism. It is possible that Pittsfield could end up with two license-holders.

More worrisome than the state's difficulties is the effort of the federal Drug En force ment Agency to pressure several Mass achusetts doctors associated with medical marijuana clinics into abandoning those re lationships. The Boston Globe reported that the doctors were told by DEA agents that their connection with the clinics could cost them their licenses to prescribe or administer narcotics to patients.

Doctors should be encouraged not discouraged from participating in dispensaries, and the DEA's heavy-handed ultimatums, which have earned it criticism from Congress, will force doctors to choose to keep their licenses to prescribe narcotics for suffering patients. This clash points out a fundamental conundrum that could crack any state's effort to set up med ical marijuana clinics -- marijuana use is a violation of federal law, and efforts by states to establish clinics, and legalize marijuana altogether, are going to run head-on into that federal prohibition.


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