Please complete the survey below.

Before jumping to the topic of this week’s message, we want to first update you on positive developments surrounding the COLA, as well as the Social Security WEP and GPO.

Released on Wednesday, the House Ways and Means FY25 budget proposal contains language creating a special COLA Commission. First proposed by Governor Healey at the request of our Association, the goal of the Special Commission is to investigate and propose new funding methods for future COLA base increases. In addition, the Commission will also explore options to create a new “senior” or enhanced COLA for long-term retirees.

We are very grateful to House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) and the members of the Committee for including the language creating the Commission in the budget (Section 79) and for ensuring that our Association will have an official seat at the table.

The House also included a 3% COLA on a $13,000 base for State and Teacher Retirees. As we have said, the work of the Special COLA Commission is critical when it comes to increasing the COLA base. Please look to next week’s report for more information on the FY25 budget.

On Tuesday, we learned that on this coming Tuesday (4/16) the US Congress will hold a hearing in Washington, DC on the Social Security WEP and GPO. Please look to a special email report later today (Friday, 4/12) for further details.

Watch today’s video report here! video report here!

This week, we would like to do something a little different with the weekly message – seek your direct input on medical marijuana. Below is a link to a short anonymous survey on the topic, designed to gauge members’ personal interest and views on using cannabis for medical purposes.

Now you might be asking yourself, “Why in the world is the Mass Retirees Association conducting a survey on pot?”

Let me give you three specific reasons why we have an interest in this issue.

  1. Statistically, we know that retirees are now using medical marijuana. But we don’t know how common that usage might be.
  2. The federal government is on the verge of reclassifying cannabis from a Schedule 1 controlled substance to a Schedule 3 controlled substance.
  3. Once the federal classification changes, there will likely be a growing push for healthcare providers to prescribe and insurance companies to cover medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana was legalized here in Massachusetts through a ballot referendum in 2012. Today, 38 states have legalized some form of medical marijuana, and 23 states have fully legalized recreational use (including Massachusetts in 2016).

While legalization has led to greater acceptance of cannabis in general, along with a growing use of the drug for medical purposes, there remains a serious lack of information and guidance around proper use. For instance, which type of cannabis or delivery method will work best in the treatment of a particular medical condition?

Additionally, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, little to no attention is being paid to potential drug interactions for those using medical marijuana. Confusion can also exist over the type of cannabis products being sold, such as what is the difference between a CBD and THC?

One important area where medical marijuana has flourished is in the treatment of cancer. Whether it is used to help offset the side effects of cancer treatment or as a non-narcotic pain management tool, medical marijuana is commonly used as an unofficial treatment option – but often without sound medical guidance.

Considering these anticipated changes and knowing that some members may already have questions regarding the use of medical marijuana, we believe that it makes sense for the Association to become involved. The first step is to seek members’ insight on whether you have used medical marijuana or if it were something you would consider in the future.

In developing the survey, we have chosen to work with EO Care, a Massachusetts based company led by recognized healthcare, cannabis regulatory and technology leaders/innovators focused on helping patients navigate this new and often confusing treatment option. It is important to note that one of EO Care’s board members is Bill Van Faasen, the former head of Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA and a highly regarded healthcare industry leader.

To be clear, we are not advocating for the use of medical marijuana – one way or the other. Now legally available across MA and 37 other states, medical marijuana is currently being used by retirees to treat a wide variety of conditions and illnesses. Our goal here is to gauge where our members stand. If there is widespread interest, then we want to do our part to ensure that our members receive the information and support necessary to help facilitate proper and safe treatment.

In today’s video I discuss the topic with Brooke Worster, MD, chief medical officer of EO Care. Dr. Worster is currently Director, Supportive Oncology at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia. She is a graduate of Temple University School of Medicine and completed her fellowship in palliative care and pain management at MGH Brigham and Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston.

If you use or have used medical marijuana or would consider using it in the future, please take a moment to complete our survey. As I mention above, this an anonymous survey where we are collecting the results in the aggregate. No personal information is being collected.

We will share the overall results with EO Care and potentially with others doing research in this space. Depending on participation, we may also write about the findings in a future edition of The Voice.

Access the survey here.

With great appreciation,


Shawn Duhamel
Chief Executive Officer
Mass Retirees Association

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