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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

Mr. Ragman October 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM
What kind of chief of police writes letters to the editor? Do your job and keep your politics to yourself, signed your employer.
gcpmomof3 October 30, 2012 at 01:38 PM
When it comes to keeping our streets safe, I do believe the chief has a right, no an obligation to inform us of his stance. I have found his letter helpful and informative. (This Chief has really made a difference here in South Norwood, we now have officers on bikes patrolling, and walking our streets, not just "cruising in the car". So, I do feel his input on this is relevant.) Clearly he takes his job seriously and would like to see Norwood improve.
Kevin Flanagan October 30, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Curious if he realizes that Marijuana was first outlawed by Tabacco and Cotton growers for fear of its use would totally obliterate their own industries? It wasnt because it was considered a "gate way drug" or a "drug" period. They labeled it such to get it to be pushed through and banned. I'm curious if he realize's that Tabacco and Alcohol have more reported deaths due to its use than Marijuana yearly? As of today there have been no reported deaths due to Marijuana use btw be it a O.D. or by Cancer. Curious if he realizes the actual benifits outweigh any percieved risks? The use of Marijuana helps relieve pain due to joint pain brought upon by numerous bones diseases. The use of it also helps bring upon hunger (or the slang term munchies if you will). This for cancer patients who need to gain weight to stay healthy is at times life saving. As for kids getting their hands on it, they can get their hands on it already on the same level and scale as cig's and beer.
Kevin Flanagan October 30, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Had to continue in another post...... We as a state and nation are growing up and realizing that supposed "Street Drug" labeling is a simple scare tactic that has no real bearing in the real world. The gateway drug myth has been shattered and can not be brought back. If Marijuana was in fact a gateway drug I'm willing to put money down on that 75% of the police force under 40 would be druggies still. We need to focus our time, money resources on harder drugs. Drugs that do damage, that do kill, that do cause violence. Unless we secretly enjoy the nickname "Needletown". Vote Yes on Question 3, tell the state and government to focus its force's on real hard drugs and other things.
mary glynn October 30, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Guess you rather people suffer in pain when pain medication does not work any more.. I see no kick backs going to Doctors or drug companies. Where they charge a huge amount just to get the pain medication. Go look and see how much one bottle of 20 pills cost.
mary glynn October 30, 2012 at 05:09 PM
the government has been fighting the drug wars since the 50's and have not stopped it instead it has grown. Why can't our government stopped it from coming in?
Fred October 30, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Mr. Ragman You signed your post "your employer" are we supposed to believe that you actually contribute to society by paying taxes. Secondly, what kind of police chief writes a letter to the editor? Probably the same one who locked up your dealer.
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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