Pubdate: Sat, 13 Oct 2012
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2012 The Boston Herald, Inc
Note: Prints only very short LTEs.
Author: Kevin A. Sabet
Note: Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, a Cambridge resident, was an official in 
the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy during the 
Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. He is an assistant 
professor and director of the Drug Policy Institute in the Medical 
School at the University of Florida.

Question 3 Lights Up Medical Pot Debate


Like many people, my family too has been hit by cancer. I have seen 
loved ones suffer the horrible side effects of a disease that kills 
millions of people a year worldwide. That is why Question 3, which 
voters will decide on Nov. 6, is such a complex issue.

But the initiative has little to do with the truly sick and dying. 
Indeed, if passed, Question 3 would set up an extensive system of 
marijuana stores in our state, allow people to grow marijuana in 
their homes and apartments, and provide a defense to those carrying 
hundreds of joints under the guise of medicine. Worst of all, it 
would allow people to get marijuana for any condition, including 
headaches or stress.

That is why a diverse range of state representatives - from 
Dorchester Democrat Martin Walsh to Sandwich Republican Randy Hunt - 
are standing with the Massachusetts Medical Society to oppose 
Question 3. They join a broad coalition of people, including 
Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic congressional 
candidate Joe Kennedy III, who will vote against Question 3.

If the out-of-state millionaires who have funded Question 3 have 
their way, we would see marijuana being sold in stores by anyone over 
21 years old without a drug felony conviction. They could sell 
marijuana in the form of baked goods or joints. There is no 
requirement in the law to have a physician or licensed pharmacist on 
site. Meanwhile, the proposed law offers no immunity from federal 
prosecution, since marijuana has not been approved by the Food and 
Drug Administration for medical use. In fact, smoked marijuana has 
failed all standard scientific tests that determine what can be sold 
as medicine in this country.

But it is not just about storefront pot purveyors. Your neighbors 
could grow marijuana plants in their backyard, on their veranda, in 
their window flower boxes. There are simply not enough restrictions 
to prevent widespread abuse. In fact, in states with similar laws, 
the average "patient" is a 32-year-old white male with no history of 
life-threatening illness and a history of drug and alcohol abuse. In 
those states with similar laws, less than 5 percent of state medical 
marijuana users have cancer, HIV, or other life threatening diseases.

For this group of the truly ill, we should have medical marijuana - 
the right way. Let's have it available in pharmacies and in 
non-smoked forms. Let's rewrite the law so that marijuana would only 
be available for people with life-threatening conditions if their own 
doctor has determined nothing else works to alleviate their 
suffering. Unfortunately, Question 3 does not even come close to doing that.
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