Jennifer C. Braceras | Boston Herald | Monday, October 22, 2011 | Op-Ed |
Medical marijuana isn’t just for old ladies with glaucoma anymore.
If Massachusetts voters approve Question 3 on the ballot this Election Day, pot will be legal and accessible to all.
Although the text of the initiative allows marijuana use only with doctor certification that the patient has a “debilitating medical condition” and “may benefit” from marijuana use, the proposal’s terms are vague, subjective, and vulnerable to serious abuse.
The text of Question 3 lists several “debilitating” conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease and AIDS. But the list is not exhaustive and explicitly includes “other conditions” — a catchall phrase that can, and will, be manipulated to include physical and emotional ailments from menstrual cramps to severe shyness.
As for the term “benefit” — must the patient benefit physically from pot use? Or are emotional and social benefits enough to justify certification? Must there be clinical evidence of marijuana’s benefit? Or is a possible benefit enough? The proposed law does not say.
Particularly troubling is the fact that Question 3 imposes no age limits on medical marijuana use. But wait, you say, “Don’t kids need parental permission for something like that?” They don’t. In fact, in Massachusetts, parents lack access to even the medical records of children over the age of 13 — meaning that, if Question 3 passes, marijuana use will become an issue between your teen and his or her doctor. Or some shady doctor you don’t even know.
This is not an exaggeration. In 2009, The New York Times [NYT] reported that doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area routinely recommended pot for teenage patients. What’s worse, the Times found doctors recommending pot to kids for painless neurological conditions such as ADHD.
Think your teen isn’t crafty enough to legally score some pot for ADHD? Maybe not, but he no doubt knows someone who is. And that person will be more than happy to share.
That is exactly what is happening in Colorado, where studies show that 75 percent of teenagers receiving treatment for substance abuse have used “diverted medical marijuana” — pot that was doctor recommended for someone else.
If Question 3 passes, pot use is likely to increase even among kids who do not have access to diverted product. Says Arlington Chief of Police Fred Ryan, “When children perceive drug use to be medically acceptable and non-risky, usage and addiction skyrocket.”
Question 3 supporters argue that, if approved, access to recreational marijuana will not be easy. But the experience of other jurisdictions proves otherwise.
Indeed, the Times reports that medical marijuana storefronts in the Los Angeles area actively solicit customers. “On the boardwalk of Venice Beach, pitchmen dressed all in marijuana green approach passers-by with offers of a $35, 10-minute evaluation for a medical marijuana recommendation for everything from cancer to appetite loss.”
And a recent series in the Oregonian newspaper describes how Oregon has witnessed a proliferation of producers who take advantage of the law for illicit purposes — actively recruiting networks of “patients” and “caregivers,” shipping product across the country for sale on the black market, and pocketing large profits.
In states that have authorized medical marijuana, the distribution of pot has become Big Business — and our teens are the target consumers. (I know liberals want to grow the economy by creating more “green jobs,” but isn’t this a bit much?)
Look, I understand that there are some good arguments in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. But Question 3 causes more problems than it solves and is a disingenuous attempt to legalize pot under the false cloak of humanitarianism.
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