This general election, Massachusetts will weigh in on Question 3, which would legalize the use and possession of marijuana for medical purposes by patients suffering from certain debilitating illnesses.
Critics of the Question are now speaking out, calling its language “vague” and “ambiguous.” A group gathered on the State House steps yesterday, saying that the ballot plays up compassionate care, while not having strict enough regulations to ensure that only seriously ill patients will have access to medical marijuana.
State Senator John F. Keenan told a gathering crowd, “This is not about being compassionate to those true, legitimate treatment needs. The residents of Massachusetts are being sold a law that goes way beyond the idea of being compassionate. Don’t be fooled. Please read the law.”
Opponents cited clauses that allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for “conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.” This means that doctors could prescribe medical marijuana for conditions other than those on the state’s approved list, such as AIDS and glaucoma. This policy is similar to California’s, in which doctors have the power to determine whether their patient would benefit from medical marijuana.
Concern was also raised because patients would be allowed to obtain a 60 day supply of medical marijuana at one time, meaning they could pick up half a pound at one time. Representative Carolyn Dykema explained, “This will mean more marijuana in the hands of our children.”
The proposed law does not have strict regulations about where collectives can be located, and does not define how long cards are valid for before expiring. Both of these points were deemed to be flaws in the proposal by opponents.
Quincy Mayor Tom Koch argued that collectives could appear next to schools or drug rehab facilities. Worcester physician Jay Broadhurst called the list of qualifying conditions “outrageously broad” and “clinically useless.”
As opponents of Question 3 spoke, Massachusetts medical marijuana supporters peacefully distributed literature about the proposal to the crowd that had gathered.
Supporters are confident that once the law passes, the Department of Health will define a set of rules and regulations for physicians and collective owners that will address opponents’ concerns.