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Natick-based doctor gives state officials advice on regulating medical marijuana

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  February 15, 2013 02:00 PM

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A Natick-based doctor specializing in creating technology for medical marijuana dispensaries spoke at a state meeting this week designed to gather input on regulating medicinal marijuana use in Massachusetts.

Dr. Bruce Bedrick, CEO of Medbox, Inc., commended public officials in Worcester on Wednesday for taking the time to gather public opinion before instituting regulations on medicinal marijuana.

"The task you have begun and the system you are creating can become the 'Gold Standard' in the industry," Bedrick told officials. "No state prior has seized this opportunity to lead. Massachusetts has this chance right now."

The public meeting is one in a series around the state - there was one in Boston on Thursday, and another meeting is slated for Feb. 27 in Holyoke - where health and policy officials listen to testimony from industry leaders who have dealt with medicinal marijuana laws in other states, as well as gather public feedback from local residents.

Bedrick, whose company develops software that streamlines the medical marijuana transaction process, said he recommended patients should be allowed to buy four ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

"While drug abuse is always a concern, this medicine is generally nontoxic and nonlethal," he said.

Bedrick also said that health regulators should divvy up the 35 allowed licenses based on an area's population, instead of a blanket policy of five dispensaries per county.

"This will enable easier access for patients as well as a safer distribution system by reducing the number of home cultivators," he said.

However, Bedrick also emphasized the importance of keeping close tabs on the newly-growing industry in Massachusetts, recommending officials use a uniform database to track the production, harvesting, transportation and sale of the drug.

"Because this drug still has increased demand in the black and gray markets, setting up rules and procedures for diversion prevention will be key," he said.

Bedrick opened a Medbox office at 81 Speen St. in Natick in November, citing the area's close proximity to major thoroughfares as one of the reasons he chose to open there.

Medbox's technology allows dispensaries to keep close tabs on each of their patients, assigning each prescription-bearing client with a HIPAA-compliant ID card that they must swipe, accompanied by a fingerprint scan, in order to gain access to the dispensary's goods.

To find out more about medicinal marijuana rules and regulations in Massachusetts, visit the Department of Public Health's website.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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