Pubdate: Wed, 17 Feb 2016
Source: Patriot Ledger, The  (Quincy, MA)
Copyright: 2016 GateHouse Media, Inc.


QUINCY -- Attorney General Maura Healey says she is "strongly 
opposed" to a marijuana legalization measure headed for the ballot 
this fall and fears that it could put the state's young people at risk.

Speaking with The Patriot Ledger's editorial board Tuesday, Healey 
said she worries that voters who are "rightly concerned" about 
prisons crammed with non-violent drug users have gone too far by 
embracing the legalization of marijuana, which has been legal for 
medical use in Massachusetts since 2013. She pointed to reports of 
emergency room visits and fatalities from drugged-driving crashes in 
Colorado, the first state to legalize the drug for recreational use as well.

"What's most profound to me is what this means for young people," she said.

Healey's comments came about a week after state legislators met with 
Colorado law enforcement officials who warned of an increase of 
hospitalizations and fatal crashes tied to legalization in their 
state. A ballot initiative to legalize the adult use of marijuana and 
establish a regulatory framework appears poised to go to 
Massachusetts voters in November, backed by the national Campaign to 
Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

Healey said Tuesday that voters should not confuse the legalization 
of recreational marijuana use with the decriminalization of the 
possession of small amounts of marijuana, which was approved by 
voters in 2000. She said she is particularly concerned about the sale 
of highly potent marijuana-infused food, known as "edibles," that she 
fears could get into the hands of children and young people.

Healey made the comments as she caps off a year in which she made the 
state's heroin and opioid epidemic a priority of her office. She said 
the state has made progress, particularly through the distribution of 
the overdose-reversing drug known by the brand name Narcan and by 
criminalizing the trafficking of the additive fentanyl, but added 
that it continues to suffer from a "pill happy" prescribing culture. 
She said state leaders have to come to terms with the fact that the 
wide availability of prescription opioid painkillers is fueling the 
epidemic of people addicted to the cheaper heroin.

"Heroin has been around forever; heroin has been cheap forever, but 
we've never seen heroin used the way it is used today," she said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom