Clipboard: On medical marijuana, trouble at Roxbury health center

A pair of fascinating Globe stories to start the week. First, don’t miss Jenifer B. McKim’s profile in yesterday’s Globe of the legal medical marijuana industry in Maine. Seventeen states have legalized use of marijuana as medicine and some form of growing or distribution. Massachusetts will consider doing so on the ballot in November.

About Maine’s program, McKim writes:

There are about 780 registered growers, called “caregivers,” and eight shops, known as dispensaries, that cultivate and sell marijuana. The are about 2,700 people in the state’s patient registry. Participation in the registry is voluntary, which some say opens the system to abuse.

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The Maine program is still being fine-tuned — regulations about growing marijuana outdoors are under consideration — but the state official in charge of the program said the law has helped reduce patient suffering while boosting a cottage industry of farmers and shops.

“It seems to be working,” said John Thiele, manager of Maine’s program. “It has not caused the downfall of Maine’s society.”

Also see the opinion piece by Tom Keane calling marijuana as medicine “a modern-day version of those old-tyme tonics.”

“If it’s really medicine, then let the FDA test and approve it,” he writes. “If the real goal is legalization, then do so openly: regulate it, tax it, and get crooks out of the business of growing and distributing it.”

On a separate issue, Globe columnist Adrian Walker writes in today’s paper about trouble at Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center, including serious internal upheaval and sanctions by the state Department of Public Health.

State officials “see a deeply troubled medical facility, and seem prepared to shut it down if necessary, one unit at a time,” Walker writes. “Another Roxbury institution is fighting for its life, and only the people it serves will suffer.”

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