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Medical Marijuana Lobbyist Opposes Legalisation

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Daniel Delaney, lobbyist for Patriot Care, the operator of Boston’s only medical cannabis dispensary, has formed a campaign committee to oppose the legalisation of recreational cannabis in Massachusetts.

According to public records filed with the state Office of Campaign & Political Finance on Wednesday, the purpose of the new group, Safe Cannabis Massachusetts, is “opposition to the ballot initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol” that is likely to appear on the ballot in November of this year.

Despite Delaney’s insistence that the formation of the committee is “separate” from his work with Patriot Care, and that he doesn’t “necessarily have a problem with” recreational legalisation, but just doesn’t like “this model”, his motives are sure to come under intense scrutiny.

Many campaigners feel that this is simply an underhand attempt to block the passage of a law which would have the potential to greatly undermine the profits of the company he works for.This is because, under the current law, in order for dispensaries to acquire a license in Massachusetts, they must first get a letter of support (or non-opposition) from municipal officials from the town or city that they wish to operate in. Since the Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, is a strong opponent of cannabis law reform, these letters are not being issued in the city.

Luckily for Patriot Care and Daniel Delaney, they received their license before these letters were required, meaning that they operate the only medical cannabis dispensary in Boston, and will continue to have what amounts to a monopoly on the market as long as the laws remain as they are.

As well as this, Patriot Care vowed, as part of its application for a permit from the zoning board (also required to do business), never to switch to selling recreational cannabis, even if it became legal to do so in Massachusetts.

What all of this means is that should the campaign to regulate cannabis like alcohol succeed, Patriot Care stand to lose out, big time. Not only will they likely have new competition to contend with, they’ll also, thanks to their own bargaining and compromises with the zoning board, be unable to operate in what will surely be a far more lucrative market.

“This is just a blatant attempt by Patriot to maintain whatever profits they can make for however long they can,” said spokesman for the legalisation campaign Jim Borghesani, according to boston.com.

Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which was instrumental in bringing about successful legalisation in Colorado and elsewhere, and is overseeing the Massachusetts campaign, agreed. “It’s kind of ironic that Patriot Care is fighting freedom in Massachusetts,” he told Marijuana.com. “Perhaps they should change their name to Red Coat Care.”

It’s difficult to find anyone willing to support what Delaney and Safe Cannabis Massachusetts are doing, but easy to find many Bostonians who are furious at what is in their mind a deeply cynical move which goes against the ethos expected of medical cannabis businesses.

It may be that this will backfire horribly on Patriot Care and their parent company, Columbia Care, who operate dispensaries in Arizona, Illinois, Washington, DC, and New York, as patients show their anger by boycotting the companies involved. Patriot Care will probably be ok for now, as it remains the only dispensary in Boston. But its attempts to hold onto that position by blocking reforms that enjoy plenty of support from voters, may well lead to their downfall in time.

Deej Sullivan
Deej Sullivan is a writer and activist from the UK. He regularly writes on drug policy and politics for NORML UK, the UKCSCs, London Real, Politics.co.uk and his own blog, www.thedomesticextremist.co.uk

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