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