Massachusetts will finalize its regulations on medical marijuana Wednesday, requiring dispensaries throughout the state to hire independent laboratories to test products not only for contaminants but also for potency of the product.

The new provision is among dozens of rule changes since the state public health council issued draft regulations in March, seeking public comment. The new changes would also relax requirements for families seeking prescriptions for sick children.

"We have received over 190 written comments," Cheryl Bartlett, interim deputy public health commissioner, told the Council, comprised of academics and health advocates appointed by the state. "Our task is to balance access to marijuana with community security and impacts."

Among final considerations was the concern that few quality laboratories would test marijuana products for fear of losing federal government contracts, given the federal prohibition of marijuana as a Schedule II substance with no medical use. Previously, the Council had suggested allowing dispensaries to test products on their own, an idea that was quickly shot down. To alleviate concerns about a shortage of laboratories for testing, the state health department suggested that laboratory staff may register with the state for some degree of legal protection.

The rule changes also allow producers to use organic pesticides, whereas previously all pesticides were banned.

"If there is an infestation and the crop needs to be saved, it needs to be saved, otherwise you are going to lose the whole crop and the whole dispensary is in danger of going down," Jonathan Napoli, owner of Boston Gardener, a Dudley Square gardening supply shop, told media. Napoli said he would apply for a state license to open a medical marijuana dispensary as soon as possible.

However, the most controversial measure within the regulations was access to medical marijuana for children. The Council relaxed regulations for patients under the age of 18, allowing prescriptions for children with "debilitating medical conditions" that were not also "life-limiting." They also changed the definition of "life-limiting" illness from one by which the patient has just six months to live to a survival expectancy as long as two years. The state said the rule change would align the regulations with definitions used in palliative care, which treat patients with life-threatening illnesses that won't necessarily kill them.

The issue of pediatric medical marijuana remains controversial in the medical community, however. Physicians at Boston Children's Hospital and other child advocates lobbied against prescription access to the drug compound, arguing that evidence for safety and efficacy was missing from the scientific literature. Other patient advocates countered that children suffering from debilitating illnesses such as cancer, as opposed to, say, a mere case of melancholia or "growing pains," should not be denied potential relief from symptoms, including pain.

Following that, the Council opted to retain a provision to require dispensaries to use child-proof packaging for all products, particularly those baked into brownies, cookies, and candies, which are often used as an alternative to smoking the product.

Dr. Sharon Levy, a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital, had recommended the state ensure such packaging given that baked goods and candies might be particularly appealing to children.

Poisonings of children from marijuana-laced products rose in Colorado during the past several years, since the state legalized medical marijuana, with a jump in calls to local poison centers, Dr. George Wang, senior toxicology fellow at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, said. "A lot of people think [medical marijuana] is benign, but we are seeing kids come to the hospital," Wang said.

Wang said that although no children were seriously injured from exposure to marijuana, several were treated for extreme sedation and a few were admitted to hospital for observation.

Massachusetts would require dispensaries to carry product liability insurance and has determined that access to coverage will not be an issue. The Council will take a final vote on the regulations Wednesday morning.