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