The Cannabis Control Commission, which oversees the recreational marijuana industry, will assume oversight of Massachusetts’ medical marijuana industry before the end of the month.
The transfer of the medical program from the Department of Public Health to the Cannabis Control Commission will occur Dec. 23, the agencies announced Thursday. State law requires the transfer by the end of the month, so that all of Massachusetts’ marijuana facilities will operate under the administration of a single agency.
“We have worked very hard to put in place an effective, high-quality, and streamlined medical marijuana program that is focused on patient safety and access,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel in a statement. “We want to assure medical marijuana patients in the Commonwealth that we have worked closely with the CCC and our constituents over the past several months to support a smooth transition of the program and to ensure that patient access is not impacted by this change.”
State officials say medical patients will not see any substantial changes in service due to the transfer. The 22 DPH staff members who currently work on medical marijuana will move to the Cannabis Control Commission.
Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman said in a statement, “We appreciate the guidance that Commissioner Bharel and her team have provided for many months, and look forward to welcoming program staff to the CCC who will help us maintain consistent, top-notch care that all Massachusetts patients deserve.”
The Cannabis Control Commission has already been working to ensure that patients have adequate supply of medical marijuana even as some of the medical dispensaries begin selling to the adult-use market. Shops that sell both products are required to set aside a percentage of their inventory for medical patients. At the dispensaries that have opened retail shops, medical patients have separate lines.
There are currently 47 registered marijuana dispensaries approved for sales in Massachusetts, serving more than 57,000 patients and more than 7,000 personal caregivers.
According to a report filed with the state Legislature earlier this year, the two agencies had to sort out details related to transferring technology, public records, legal and financial affairs, and other aspects of the program. The majority of the DPH staff was expected to continue working out of its current office space in Boston until May 2019, as the Cannabis Control Commission continues searching for a space to accommodate both programs.