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Letter to the Editor: Marijuana is Not Medicine

Chief Brooks of the Norwood Police Department urges residents to vote "no" on Question 3.

To the editor:

On November 6, Massachusetts voters will go to the polls to vote in several hotly contested races, but in my opinion the issue that will most affect communities and families is the ballot question on so-called “medical marijuana” (Question 3).  If the initiative passes, 35 marijuana dispensaries will open across the commonwealth and people who claim financial and transportation challenges will be permitted to grow their own.

I sympathize with people who suffer from a chronic or terminal disease, but Question 3 is not about that.  Most professional medical associations maintain that marijuana is not a medicine at all and that it should not be administered to patients.  Among groups that have taken formal positions against “medical marijuana” are the American Medical Association, the British Medical Association, the Massachusetts Medical Association, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies and the American Cancer Society.  Don’t you think these groups know more about treating patients than the proponents of Question 3?

The active ingredient in marijuana is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC.  For decades, it has been on the market as a prescription pill and available to doctors who want to prescribe it.  The proponents of Question 3 support the smoking of marijuana over the administration of THC by prescription.  If the issue is really about medicine, you have to ask yourself why.

According to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, the committee promoting Question 3 has raised over one million dollars.  Of that amount, over 95% came from outside Massachusetts, from people pursuing a national agenda to legalize marijuana.

Question 3 would permit people with marijuana cards to possess and carry a two month supply of marijuana, an amount that would ordinarily support a criminal charge of possession with the intent to distribute.  The text of Question 3 is available online, but the salient parts of the initiative include:

  • People would be permitted to carry marijuana if they obtain a marijuana card authorized by a physician.  The cards never expire, allowing cardholders to use marijuana indefinitely.
  • The law proposed by Question 3 lists several maladies, but the paragraph ends with the words, “and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualified patient’s physician.”  In other words, a physician may authorize a person to obtain marijuana for a wide variety of reasons.  In other states with medical marijuana, most card holders are in this undefined category.
  • People with marijuana cards would be permitted to carry up to a sixty day supply of marijuana.  The law would direct the Department of Public Health to determine what a sixty day supply is.  (It just may be that DPH should be attending to more important matters than this.)
  • DPH “shall” issue authorization to a person to grow his own marijuana if he has a financial hardship, a physical incapacity or a lack of a dispensary within a reasonable distance.  The word “shall” makes this a mandate, but the terms are not further defined.

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has no accepted medical use in the U.S.  Doctors cannot prescribe it.  So if a doctor signs off on a marijuana card, he or she is not held to the same standard as if he had issued a prescription.  The growing and distribution of marijuana that would be allowed under Question 3 are violations of federal law and subject to enforcement by federal law enforcement agencies.  A state cannot legalize something that is prohibited under federal law.

Most states with “medical marijuana” laws have experienced crime in the neighborhoods where dispensaries are located as criminals target them for break-ins and their customers for robberies.  People with medical marijuana cards have been caught selling their marijuana on the black market and shipping it to other states.  Law enforcement agencies have reported young, healthy looking people with marijuana cards signed by doctors who have become easy marks. 

Having been a policeman for 35 years, I know a few things about drug abuse.  First, one of the factors that drive drug use among teens is perception of risk.  If you let kids think that marijuana has value as a medicine, more will smoke it.  Second, while not all kids who smoke marijuana will move on to other drugs, the vast majority of people who become addicted started with marijuana. 

So would a medical marijuana law put more marijuana in the hands of kids?  A recent study in Colorado where “medical marijuana” is legal revealed that 74% of kids in drug treatment said the marijuana they used was someone else’s medical marijuana.  In fact the median number of times these kids used that marijuana was 50.  (By the way, the full legalization of marijuana is on Colorado’s ballot this year, financed in part by the out-of-state people backing medical marijuana in Massachusetts.  Surprised?)

Marijuana is a street drug; it is not medicine.  The passage of Question 3 would lead to an increase in crime and the diversion of marijuana to adolescents.  My officers and I have worked hard to make Norwood a safer place and to suppress the availability of drugs in our community.  I hope the voters of Norwood see through the medical marijuana hoax.

 

William G. Brooks III

Chief of Police

Norwood Parent October 30, 2012 at 07:06 PM
The chief cares about what is happening in our town. He is doing his job. If that includes writing letters and connecting with the community then so be it.
Chris Taylor October 30, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Well put Chief. I'm really tired of mis-educated High school students telling me to "legalize it" because they "need it". The only thing they need to get is a life.
Jill Healey October 30, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I believe the Chief has every right to voice his opinion on the matter; after all, his police force is dealing with a lot of drug issues these days. And, most people probably don't know what a "yes" vote entails... so it doesn't harm to explain it further. Having a police leiutenant in my family, I hear many stories of what goes on behind the scenes... it is a hard job dealing with drugs and what's legal/illegal. So, you need to think about their side and what is REALLY happening out there.
Terri Maria October 31, 2012 at 02:14 AM
What you resist you create. When war was called on drugs, it became just that, and grew increasingly worse. Marijuana is no different than alcohol except for it's use damaging the lungs instead of the liver. If it's legalized medically or otherwise there need only be rules applied, the same ones as alcohol should suffice. Age restrictions and no operating vehicles or machinery under the influence. As far as kids starting off with marijuana and becoming addicts, if it wasn't marijuana it would be something else. Likely it was BOOZE before marijuana but I don't see a ballot question about bringing back prohibition.
FlyingTooLow October 31, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I was in Federal Prison with Brother Love and several of his followers from the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church in the 1980's. We had all been convicted of marijuana offenses...separate cases. The head of Brother Love's defense team was former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark. Their defense was based on religious freedom. While in prison together, I read hundreds of pages of the transcript from his trial. Many are available on the web today. The panel of 'expert witnesses,' presented by his defense team, included the foremost authorities in medicine of that era. The overwhelming amount of evidence documenting the medicinal benefits of marijuana was staggering. And, that was in the early 1980's. Now, fully 30 years later, the same lame arguments are still being paraded. How pathetic. I spent 5 years in Federal Prison for that marijuana offense. While I was there, I watched armed bank robbers come and go in as little as 20 months. After 3 years, I pointed this out to the parole board. Their response: “You must understand, yours was a very serious offense.” How do you respond to that mentality? I laughed about the parole panel's comment for 2 more years (as I still sat in prison), then wrote my book: Shoulda Robbed a Bank No, it is not a treatise on disproportionate sentences, but a look at what the use of marijuana is really about. People pursuing happiness in their own way. Harming no one...nor their property.

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