Pubdate: Thu, 18 Oct 2012
Source: Patriot Ledger, The  (Quincy, MA)
Copyright: 2012 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Author: Chris Burrell


A group fighting against a ballot question that would legalize the 
use, distribution and cultivation of medical marijuana in 
Massachusetts warns that voter approval in November would endanger 
the health of adolescents and put the drug in the hands of people who 
have no medical need for it.

Meeting Wednesday with editors of The Patriot Ledger, representatives 
from the coalition aiming to defeat Question 3 argued that the ballot 
initiative offers no safeguards.

"There's no age restriction, no parent notification and no 
specifications on what state licensed physicians would be from," said 
Sen. John F. Keenan, D-Quincy, who is backing the effort to defeat 
the ballot question.

The proposed law would allow patients diagnosed with cancer, Crohn's 
disease, AIDS or other "debilitating" illnesses to obtain written 
certificates from a physician, saying they would benefit from the use 
of medical marijuana.

Such patients could possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana. The 
proposal would pave the way for up to 35 distribution centers across the state.

But a major loophole is that medical marijuana would not be tracked 
like prescription drugs are in the state's Prescription Monitoring 
Program, said Dr. James Broadhurst, a family physician at UMass 
Memorial Medical Center in Shrewsbury and a vocal critic.

"The substance is touted as relieving pain, and yet it would be 
completely outside any monitoring system," said Broadhurst, arguing 
that the proposal is open to abuses. "I have colleagues in the 
medical profession willing to do anything for a buck. I don't like saying it."

Heidi Heilman, who heads up the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance, 
said that marijuana use is rising among teenagers in the state and is 
the number one drug that's landing adolescents in treatment centers 
in the state. Broadhurst said that one out of six adolescents who use 
marijuana becomes addicted, and many will experience an eight-point 
decrease in their IQ.

In 2008, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly backed a 2008 initiative 
that decriminalized the possession of an ounce of less of marijuana.

Two years later, advocates placed 18 nonbinding advisory questions on 
ballots in communities across the state to get a sense whether voters 
would support another overhaul of marijuana laws.

Nine of the questions supported the use of marijuana for medical 
reasons while another nine backed legalizing the drug outright, 
allowing the state to regulate and tax it.

Voters responded to the questions with a resounding "yes." Support 
ranged from 54 percent in some districts to up to 70 percent in others.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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