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Letter: Legalizing Medical Marijuana Will Lead to Teen Drug Use

A letter to the editor in opposition to 2012 Massachusetts State Ballot Question 3.

The following is a letter to the editor by Marilyn G. Belmonte of the Burlington Drug & Alcohol Task Force:

Dear Editor:

I have been involved with educating communities about teen substance abuse and helping families torn apart by teen drug use.  Ballot question 3 scares me.  I am afraid for families of teenagers, Massachusetts schools, and mostly for our children.

At first glance, the question appears to allow safe access of marijuana for our sick and suffering citizens.  But the question is does NOT match up with the actual proposed law.  Ballot Question 3 may sound compassionate, but it was written with negligence for our teens.

If passed, what would the proposed law allow?

  • Marijuana would not become a prescription drug.  Only the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs. Therefore marijuana will not be sold in pharmacies by health professionals.
  • 35 marijuana retail stores will be allowed in MA in the first year.  This number can be increased after that with no maximum number of dispensaries specified.
  • Any one 21 years of age can operate or work in marijuana retail store.  No education is required, including no high school diploma.  The only restriction is they can not have a felony conviction in a drug offense.
  • A “Patient” can be any age.  There is no Minimum Age Requirement to receive a recommendation from a doctor for marijuana.
  • There is no Expiration Date or Limit to the number of Refills. A “patient” never needs to return to the doctor to continue using marijuana.
  • People with marijuana cards can legally possess a 60-day supply of marijuana.  But, this 60-day supply is NOT defined in proposed law.  It could be hundreds of joints depending on each person’s daily dose.
  • People can buy pot plants to legally grow marijuana in their homes if they live an inconvenient distance from a dispensary.  But the distance to be eligible for home growing is not specified in the proposed law.
  •  Anyone can claim they need marijuana.  The proposed law lists serious conditions but then states “and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.”
  • Marijuana based food products such as brownies, cookies, cakes and candy, will be legally sold as “medicine”.  Marijuana candies imported from other states have already been confiscated from MA high school students.
  • The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will have only120 days to create a statewide marijuana system. But sales will begin on January 1, 2013 regardless of how long it takes to create a state program. 
  • Marijuana retail shops must be not-for-profit which means there would be no tax dollars collected by the businesses to cover the cost of regulation. 

Read bill H3885 for yourself.   Is this proposal written for safe access of marijuana ONLY to our ailing citizens?  Don’t be fooled.  Be an informed voter. 

Sincerely

Marilyn G. Belmonte

Burlington, MA

Phil October 17, 2012 at 12:14 PM
This legislation will have little or no effect on teens and substance abuse. It is foolish to continue prohibition on an item which can be grown in anyone's back yard. The overwhelming contributor to teen substance abuse is alcohol which most any adult will tell you was thier first introduction.
Thomas Bowers October 17, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Ok here is the deal..get ready....here it comes.. KIDS ALREADY GET MARIJUANA WHEN THEY WANT IT. There, did that stop you in your track ? Did it shock you ? Now you say that medical marijuana or, god forbid, legalization will increase the number of teens using pot. So you say you must prevent all the millions of adults in this country alone who wish to use marijuana because more kids will use it. Really ? How many teens smoke tobacco these days compared to a few years ago even ? Well, it's down, but why is that ? It's because our society has made the use of tobacco a HEALTH ISSUE. Kids know what smoking does, even though some rebellious kids are gonna DO IT ANYWAYS. This attitude that a plant is a criminal issue and not a health one is completely stupid. I know the potential dangers of teens using pot, but I am not advocating teens using pot. I am advocating the responsible use of pot by ADULTS. You want to deny my freedom and that of millions of others just because you don't see our perspective, which is that EDUCATION is what everyone needs. Educated teens are not taking up tobacco because they are educated. What sort of education do teens get about marijuana besides that it is "bad" and they should never use it ever in their lives? That's just controlling and not educating.
Jillian Galloway October 17, 2012 at 03:25 PM
What nonsense logic! Teens currently buy marijuana from drug dealers on the street and there's NOTHING that Ms. Belmonte or the Burlington Drug & Alcohol Task Force can do to prevent that. However, they could make marijuana a whole lot *harder* for teens to access by legalizing it like beer and wine. Legalization rid our streets of bootleggers and legalization will rid our streets of drug dealers. Just as with alcohol, they won't be able to compete with the low prices charged in stores. And since stores card their customers that will make marijuana a LOT harder for teens to access. How about supporting a policy that will protect our children instead of your job Ms. Belmonte?
Jillian Galloway October 17, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Why is marijuana illegal while alcohol (which is MUCH more harmful) is legal? In part, it's because Health and Human Services concluded that marijuana has a "high potential for abuse" because millions of people use it. Notice the same anti-logic that Ms. Belmonte uses? "A lot of people find marijuana beneficial and use it so therefore it must have a "high potential for abuse" and must be kept illegal". What complete nonsense! We arrest 800,000 people a year because of this stupid, circular anti-logic!! Legalize Marijuana Like Wine and STOP criminalizing people for choosing a FAR safer substance than alcohol!
Paul Hurteau October 17, 2012 at 03:48 PM
This woman is worried about her job, not the "children"! How much grant money will her task force loose if marijuana is made legal in any form. Why is she not asking to have liquor stores banned, you know, to "save the children"? How many teens have died from alcohol? Alcohol-Related Student Deaths-Spring 2010 http://compelledtoact.com/Tragic_listing/Main_listing_Spring_2010.htm How many teens have died from Marijuana?
Brad October 17, 2012 at 04:52 PM
What's scary is a cop "educating" kids. Cops are LAW ENFORCERS! PERIOD! And generally not the brighest people.......
FlyingTooLow October 17, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Our nation was founded upon freedom of the individual. Each of our citizens was guaranteed the right to the pursuit of happiness...so long as he brings no harm to his fellow citizens or their property. When did this change? I spent 5 years in Federal Prison for a marijuana offense. And I am as harmless as a Beagle puppy. I wrote about the escapades that brought about my 'extended vacation'...my book: Shoulda Robbed a Bank I would be honored by your review.
Esoteric Knowledge October 18, 2012 at 02:16 AM
I think people who restrict other people's lives because they are afraid of a naturally occurring species are the problem in our society.
Esoteric Knowledge October 18, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Any of us could out-debate Marilyn G. Belmonte extremely easily, that's not the problem. The problem is conservatives are unable to learn.
Chris O'Hara October 18, 2012 at 05:31 AM
Marilyn doesn't give a rats azz about teen drug use, the more the better for her budget and pay check.......because of this women and people like her teens already have 24/7 365 access. people like marilyn need this to continue, they need the forced rehab and jail time to justify their existence and budgets... These people are just control freaks nothing more.....they will lie cheat and steal to maintain their control...... Marilyn control freaks like yourself will never stop me from smoking cannabis if i so choose, no matter how many billions you spend or how many lies you tell..... Marilyns way is to allow all the teenagers access to marijuana so they get forced into rehab.....legal alcohol much harder to get than illegal cannabis......dealers don't ask for ID. These people make me sick they want to destroy a teens future to teach him/her a lesson in the present........ By that reasoning they need to destroy a teens life in order to save it......
FlyingTooLow October 18, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Well said, Chris O'Hara!
J. Parker October 18, 2012 at 06:50 PM
What is the difference between smoking cigarettes and smoking marijuana? I mean; what is more or less harmful to the lungs? I don't ask this because I'm against, or for it. I'm just curious. Smokers are being ostrasized and taxed to death. If marijuana is cheaper and less harmful, maybe people won't treat the smokers like pariah's any longer?
Joe Mosely October 18, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Government is too big and intrusive and wastes too much money enforcing behavioral laws such as this. Lets just legalize it and reallocate our tax dollars to better use. I'm sure our law enforcement agencies have more substantive things to do than try and enforce petty issues like this. Teen texting while driving is far more dangerous. And we have an opportunity to alleviate some of the pain and suffering folks go through especially where traditional medicine and its high costs have let them down.
Marilyn Belmonte October 20, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I have volunteered my time as co-chairperson of my town's local teen substance abuse prevention coalition for 12 years. I don't get paid.
Marilyn Belmonte October 20, 2012 at 01:01 AM
I do not receive a paycheck. I am a volunteer and have been volunteering in my community for 12 years.
Faydeen Sateriale October 20, 2012 at 02:49 PM
With all this "free and easiness" maybe we should legalize cocaine, meth, heroine and eliminate age restrictions on cigarettes and alcohol?!??! Honestly, I think if medially prescribed marijuana does help just like any other pain or prescribed med it should be prescribed by a doctor. I also believe if we legalize it all then the black market and dealers would be put out of business. But, in return we end up with a much meaner monster running a muck. Do we need traffic lights, speed limits, pay taxes, have laws or plain common courtesy? There needs to be a balance between what we can choose for ourselves and what we as a society choose for all.
Paul Hurteau October 20, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Then why not have doctors prescribe drugs like alcohol and tobacco?? I mean, they should know what dosage to prescribe,, how many shots of tequila we need to fix,,,, Uh, what does tequila fix?? OH. NOTHING , that's right. I can't imagine why a poison can be self prescribed but not marijuana.
Paul Hurteau October 20, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Marilyn Belmonte 8:58 pm on Friday, October 19, 2012 I have volunteered my time as co-chairperson of my town's local teen substance abuse prevention coalition for 12 years. I don't get paid. ____________________________________________________ And in 12 years you still have not learned anything about marijuana.
Not Mitt Romney October 24, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Mary and half her family work at Healthy Outcomes Inc. You GET PAID for that.
Paul Hurteau October 25, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Ok,, I can listen to refer madness or I can listen to successful, educated people who have made a difference world wide. http://marijuanamajority.com You will notice Pat Robertson among the THOUSANDS. Oh, and as far as Law Enforcement views,, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is an international organization of criminal justice professionals who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of our current drug policies. Our experience on the front lines of the “war on drugs” has led us to call for a repeal of prohibition and its replacement with a tight system of legalized regulation, which will effectively cripple the violent cartels and street dealers who control the current illegal market. http://www.leap.cc

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