Medical Marijuana Question Passes

Medical Marijuana Question Passes
Posted by CN Staff on November 16, 2006 at 07:50:52 PT
By Ben Aaronson, Staff Writer
Source: Bedford Minuteman
Massachusetts -- Supporters of Question 4 on last week's election ballot gave new meaning to the concept of grassroots campaigning.   Nearly 70 percent of Bedford voters cast their ballots in favor of the nonbinding initiative, which calls for legislation that would allow seriously ill patients to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for medical use.
The Public Policy Question appeared on ballots in the nine communities that make up the 3rd Middlesex Senatorial District, represented by Sen. Susan Fargo, D-Lincoln, who heads the Joint Committee on Public Health. The ballot initiative also appeared in parts of Milton and Randolph, which comprise the 7th Norfolk Representative District, represented by Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry. The question was passed in all 11 communities by an average margin of 67 percent.   Bill Downing, director of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MASS CANN), said the showing of public support did not surprise him. According to Downing, more than 110 communities across the state have voted in favor of various marijuana reform questions since 2000.   "The election results matched exactly with the results we've been seeing on all of our ballot questions in the past. Almost half the state has voted on these issues now," said Downing.   MASS CANN, the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), worked directly with the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts, which sponsored two marijuana-related ballot questions in this year's elections, Downing said. A question regarding the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana appeared on ballots in the 1st and 12th Plymouth Representative Districts, passing by a margin of 61 and 60 percent, respectively.   Downing said he is hopeful the passing of the nonbinding initiative at the polls will soon translate into the passing of binding legislation at the State House. Downing said previous marijuana reform bills have been tied up in committee and never reached the House or Senate floors, but that pressure is building on legislators to act on what seems to be a public mandate.   "Politicians are reticent to take stands on issues unless they have to. The goal of these ballot initiatives was to force the politicians to take a stand and represent their constituents," Downing said.   While legislators have largely ignored past proposals for the decriminalization of marijuana, Downing said MASS CANN and other marijuana reform groups have had some success in pushing medical marijuana bills.   In 1993, then Gov. Bill Weld signed a bill establishing a state therapeutic research program to perform studies on the medicinal benefits of marijuana, Downing said. The program never got off the ground, however, as the federal Drug Enforcement Agency refused to supply marijuana to the state Department of Public Health, he said. This year's ballot question supports legislation that would circumvent the DEA supply ban by allowing medical marijuana patients to grow small amounts of the drug for personal use, Downing said. According to the American Medical Association, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), may have medical applications in treating many diseases. According to the AMA, studies have shown that THC may be effective in reducing malnutrition and weight loss in HIV/AIDS patients, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients, and spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis and other movement disorders.   Doctors are telling their patients that marijuana could help their symptoms, Downing said, but they can't get it for them because it is a controlled substance.   "You've got people who are suffering from serious diseases who are being forced out into the black market to buy it from heroin dealers on the street. Politicians always talk about not wanting to send the wrong message to our kids, but what kind of message does that send?" Downing said.   Detective Lt. Scott Jones of the Bedford Police Department said legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana would not have a big impact from a law enforcement point of view. If such legislation were to pass, Jones said, police officers would treat cases of marijuana possession like any other prescription drug   "I don't know that it would make things any harder for us. The way it is now with drug possession cases, we have to prove that it is a controlled substance and that it was possessed illegally," Jones said. "If someone claimed it was for a medical reason, it would be up to us to prove that they didn't have a legitimate right to the drug."   Selectman Sheldon Moll said he does not support the distribution of drugs in general, but that he is in favor of it if there is a clear medical benefit. Moll said he had a friend many years ago who was suffering from Hodgkin's Disease, a form of lymphatic cancer. Moll said the only way his friend could relieve the pain from his treatments was to take marijuana.   "I don't like the idea of drugs in our society. But if something helps somebody and it's not being abused, how can you be against it?" Moll said.Source: Bedford Minuteman (Concord, MA)Author: Ben Aaronson, Staff WriterPublished: Thursday, November 16, 2006 Copyright: 2006 Bedford MinutemanContact: bedford cnc.comWebsite: DPFMA Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #1 posted by unkat27 on November 16, 2006 at 15:08:25 PT
The Key Word is Nonbinding
I live in Mass-state and i can tell you this kind of BS has been going on for over a decade now. An overwhelming majority of Mas citizens have been voting in favor of decrim and medical mj for all these years and the state congress and law enforcement department has been completely ignoring it, for the most part.Nonbinding? Why should a majority democratic vote by the people be "nonbinding"? Because the Mass-state is run by federalist ass-kisssers, that's why, and they don't give a dman about no democratic people's vote on anything, unless it agrees with their federalist ass-kissing agenda.It will continue to be BS business as usual for Mass, despite the dems taking congress, because they will always have more important matters to address and mj will continue to be treated as a nonissue by their plutocratic ilk.
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