Mass. Residents To Vote on Medical Marijuana
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Mass. Residents To Vote on Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on November 05, 2012 at 06:47:24 PT
By John P. Finnegan and Steven S.J. Lee
Source: Harvard Crimson
Massachusetts -- On April 29, 1911, Massachusetts did what no state had done before: it banned marijuana. This prohibition sparked a national trend, culminating in the federal criminalization of the drug. Now, more than a century later, voters in Massachusetts stand poised to lead the state in the opposite direction.When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, they will decide whether to vote yea or nay to Ballot Question 3 which, if approved, would legalize medicinal use of marijuana for patients with “debilitating conditions.”
With a written certification by a physician, patients would be able to purchase a 60-day supply of cannabis from any of the 35 dispensaries sanctioned by this initiative.A number of other states across the nation are also considering the question of medical marijuana on their ballot, among them Colorado and Arkansas. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already allow some kind of medicinal marijuana usage.While the debate over medical marijuana has provoked strong feelings among both proponents and detractors, it remains to be seen whether or not Massachusetts voters will reverse the decision they made 100 years ago.Pushing PotPolls by The Boston Globe as well as Suffolk University show a majority of voters support the legalization of medical marijuana—the most recent Boston Globe poll suggesting that 63 percent of likely Massachusetts voters are in favor.Supporters of the initiative argue that marijuana can be very effective in treating individuals with conditions ranging anywhere from glaucoma to AIDS.In particular, advocates point to evidence provided by organizations like the National Cancer Institute which reports on its website that “cannabis or cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer,” and the California Pacific Medical Center whose recent study on animals has shown cannabis could stop the development of cancer cells in humans.Harvard Medical School professor emeritus Lester S. Grinspoon, the author of “Marihuana Reconsidered,” said that marijuana is “a remarkably benign drug which is capable of doing...remarkable things medically.”Before conducting research on marijuana’s effects, Grinspoon was a staunch opponent of its use and was “terribly concerned” that the drug would negatively affect his close friend Carl Sagan, the well-known astronomer, who enjoyed smoking marijuana.However, he now supports the full legalization of both medical marijuana and marijuana for recreational use.“I have always believed since I had my epiphany that the only way to deal with this substance is to get rid of the prohibition and treat it like alcohol,” said Grinspoon.The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws supports state-level initiatives like this one because they do not see full national legalization as a feasible, achievable goal for the near future.“If you look at alcohol prohibition as a model, the federal government did not, on its own, decide to abolish alcohol prohibition,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML. “It only did so after a number of states opted out of it.”Armentano argued that the Drug Enforcement Administration should downgrade its classification of cannabis from a Schedule I drug, which “defines it as having no accepted medical utility and places it in the same category of harm as heroin.”Duped By The Dope Law?Opponents of the initiative are quick to point out that the federal government’s classification of cannabis, although potentially flawed, means that Massachusetts should not legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.“Medicinal is the word we have a difficulty with because marijuana is a Schedule I drug under the DEA, Drug Enforcement Agency, and the FDA has not recognized it as it being medicinal,” said Dr. Richard V. Aghababian ’70, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, an organization of more than 24,000 physicians and medical students in Massachusetts.The Medical Society opposes the ballot measure primarily because the organization does not believe that scientific research has conclusively proven that marijuana use has health benefits.“If it were Schedule II, it could be subjected to rigorous scientific study to prove its efficacy over currently available drugs on things like nausea, chemotherapy, cancer, and the like,” Aghababian continued.John S. Scheft ’81, an attorney who represented the Mass. Prevention Alliance before the Supreme Court of Massachusetts on issues related to Question 3, argues that the text of the proposed law is poorly constructed and contains several loopholes. Scheft, who has given legal advice to anti-medical marijuana groups, believes that the law which would be enacted by Question 3 will allow unbridled access to marijuana without the presence of a “debilitating condition.” The law, he pointed out, contains a clause granting medical marijuana use for “other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.”According to Scheft, a majority of medical marijuana users in California and Colorado, states which have already legalized medical marijuana, are people with a history of addiction and fake diagnoses for conditions like anxiety and chronic pain.“I really think a lot of voters are getting ‘doped’ because they’ll say that they think marijuana is really important for very sick people and I say I agree, but read the law, that’s not who’s going to get access to it,” he said.Hashing Out The IssueFor many Harvard students, the legalization of medical marijuana is a clear cut issue: it should be legalized, they say.“I support it,” said Donny R. Yung ’16. “If the doctors think it is a good treatment, it shouldn’t be off the table.”Kate R. Carlow ’15, a resident of Connecticut, which last month became the 16th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana, echoed Yung’s statements.“I do believe that medical marijuana should be legalized,” said Carlow, adding, “I have friends who have benefited [from medical marijuana]”.Though most students support medical marijuana use, some are more hesitant to get behind a law which, they say, could be exploited and misused.“Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes creates a gray area between what it should actually be used for [and what it] is technically not legally supposed to be used for,” said David M. Larkin ’16, a registered Massachusetts voter who said he would vote no for Question 3.Not all, however, held such a firm stance either for or against legalizing medical usage of the drug.“The criminalization of drugs, especially marijuana, is always very tricky,” said Justin D. Porter ’16.“It’s a really hard question,” said Julia Wang ’14. “I would be cautious in terms of considering whether or not to vote for this issue.”Sky-High Consequences?If the ballot question is approved, how the new law will play out and affect marijuana use in Massachusetts remains unclear.Beyond the issue of ensuring that only those who need marijuana receive it, critics point out that the Question 3 text has no age restrictions. This loophole could make it easier for minors to obtain marijuana for recreational use, according to Scheft, who called the law’s loopholes “outrageous.”UCLA professor Mark A. R. Kleiman, formerly a professor at the Kennedy School, said he expects the availability of medical marijuana will create enough market competition to drive prices down, leading to greater access for minors.However, Jeffrey A. Miron, a senior lecturer in Harvard’s Economics department, foresees that the overall impact of the proposed law will be quite small.“Marijuana is close to de facto being legal already. It is decriminalized already in Massachusetts, so people can purchase it without fear of being arrested, simply for being in possession for small amounts of an ounce or less,” said Miron, who in the past has spoken out in favor of fully legalizing marijuana.The only changes Miron envisioned was a change in the habits of those who already smoke marijuana, and not in the number of people who do use marijuana.“There are people who don’t consume alcohol, there are people who don’t eat ice cream, there are people who don’t do lots of things that they can readily afford,” said Miron.Whether or not medical marijuana alters the landscape of drug use may not be clear for many months, but the election this week will determine its fate in Massachusetts.Source: Harvard Crimson, The (MA Edu)Author: John P. Finnegan and Steven S.J. LeePublished: November 05, 2012Copyright: 2012 The Harvard Crimson, Inc.Contact: letters thecrimson.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #5 posted by runruff on November 06, 2012 at 08:36:57 PT
" cannonades "?
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Comment #4 posted by ekim on November 05, 2012 at 18:46:05 PT
Bulletin No. 404, U.S.D.A., 1916
showed how much hemp cellulose can be grown and used for paper.where are the bulletins on how much hemp fiber can be grown and used for wise the ones showing the cellulose to ethanol ratio.and on and on and on 
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on November 05, 2012 at 08:38:18 PT
- On April 29, 1911
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on November 05, 2012 at 08:32:35 PT
Bodies crave what they need.
If cannonades are a natural occurring substance in the brainit only makes sense that if our own endos don't do enough in a healthy brain cocktail we supplement.I am very interested these days in our brain chemistry. Our cocktail of endo drugs and hormones. We each one of us need to find our own "mix" as we are all different. When we have a bad mix we end up like Michelle Leonhart but in her case I believe someone peed in her gene pool.
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on November 05, 2012 at 08:09:58 PT
>>>According to Scheft, a majority of medical marijuana users in California and Colorado, states which have already legalized medical marijuana, are people with a history of addiction and fake diagnoses for conditions like anxiety and chronic pain.And how are we faring with fake diagnoses & abuse of Dr. Scheft's favorite drugs - Oxycontin, Vicodin, Adderrall, Xanax.  No fraud there whatsoever, right? Squeeky clean!  Pure!
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