Medical pot bill likely dead

March 19, 2010
By

John Ruch
 

Web Exclusive

A bill that would legalize the medical use of marijuana in Massachusetts will be recommended for further study, according to local state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, who chairs the committee reviewing the legislation.

That means that the bill will likely die, according to the state legislature’s web site (Mass.gov/legis).

Bill Downing, director of the pro-medical marijuana Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MASS CANN), said in an e-mail to the Gazette that Jamaica Plain voters should be “hopping mad.” He accused Sánchez of “blatant, cruel, reefer mad misrepresentation” and said JP should “kick that bum—Sánchez—out of office ASAP.”

MASS CANN’s Facebook page now includes a satirical wanted poster of Sánchez that refers to him by an obscene sexual nickname.

MASS CANN is working on a non-binding ballot question that would direct the local state representative to approve medical marijuana legislation. Downing said the group will collect signatures for the ballot question at this year’s Wake Up the Earth Festival in JP.

House Bill 2160 would legalize the medical use and possession of a certain amount of marijuana, and create a registration system for patients who use the drug. Marijuana is sometimes used to treat pain and nausea for such conditions as the side effects of cancer treatment chemotherapy.

MASS CANN earlier this month delivered pro-medical marijuana postcards signed by more than 1,000 JP-area voters to Sánchez, urging his Joint Committee on Public Health to report favorably on the bill.

“This is one [bill] that I think we’re going to study,” Sánchez told the Gazette last week. That means the bill is technically alive for now and that the full legislature will be asked to approve further study during a legislative recess.

But “study orders are seldom approved” due to financial and staffing constraints, according to the state legislature’s web site. “The vast majority of bills sent to a study order do not progress any further in the legislative process,” the site says.

Local state Rep. Liz Malia, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, previously told the Gazette that the common understanding in the State House is that if a bill is sent to study, “It’s dead.”

Sánchez previously told the Gazette that he has no personal opinion about legalizing medical marijuana. He noted it is a legally complex issue that requires careful study.