Sánchez to halt medical pot bill

Local state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez once again is poised to halt a bill that would legalize medical-use marijuana.

His annual killing of the proposal has angered local and statewide marijuana activists. But this time, those activists seem to be focused more on their own efforts to make medical marijuana legalization a ballot question.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, which is used to treat nausea and pain in such diseases as cancer and AIDS. But, Sánchez told the Gazette, he remains concerned about how those laws conflict with the federal ban on pot.

“The federal government still reserves its right to bang on people’s door and arrest them, despite state laws,” Sánchez said, adding that cities could get in legal trouble as well. The federal government needs to take a clearer stand on the issue, he said.

“I’m not inherently disposed to say no [to medical marijuana legalization],” he said. “I don’t question the science and the potential wellness benefits. But the challenge lies in the dispensing.”

“Patients deserve the same access to necessary medical resources to fight debilitating diseases that are available in 16 other states across the country,” said Whitney Taylor of the pro-medical marijuana group the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance in a written statement to the Gazette. Taylor’s statement began with a reference to the MPAA’s ongoing ballot question initiative, which reportedly already has attracted more than 100,000 petition-signers.

Voters forced the state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in a 2008 ballot question. About 78 percent of JP voters backed that idea.

Jeff Herman, a JP activist who ran against Sánchez in 2010, was among those testifying in favor of the medical marijuana legalization this year.

Every year, some type of medical marijuana legalization bill comes before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health, which Sánchez chairs. He has sent those bills to “study,” effectively killing them. The most recent version, expected to be sent to study sometime between now and May, is House Bill 625, which would create nonprofit centers where patients could get medical marijuana with a prescription and an identity card. “I haven’t heard anything new” regarding how the legalization squares with federal law, Sánchez said.

Other types of marijuana legalization proposals have come before the legislature’s judiciary committee and similarly have gone nowhere.


Updated version: This version corrects that Rep. Sánchez has not yet sent the bill to study, but is prepared to do so.

8 comments for “Sánchez to halt medical pot bill

  1. Turn Left
    February 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Why doesn’t a patient that would benefit from the use of the drug sue the state for the right to access? If other states allow it then it should serve as precedent.

  2. Medicinesocks
    January 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    This new position of Sanchez shows that the all the letters, calls and meetings, and the dozens of compelling testimonies from doctors, law officers and patients about the efficacy of cannabis as medicine and the evils of treating cannabis using patients like criminals has actually started to get through to some of the stubbornest resisters of this pending legislation. This is a shift from Sanchez’ old official position, which was to deny that there could be any benefits at all  for sick people using cannabis.The Department of Public Health continues, by keeping these bills perpetually on the back burner to negatively impact, and in some cases even, by their not so benign neglect and indifference, to destroy the lives of patients seeking tousecannabis as an alternative to more toxic approaches or to augment conventional treatments . By passing the buck and blaming federal policy for its own lack of courageous, forward thinking, compassionate support for the changes the people they are supposed to work for and represent, they are grievously failing the people who need their help the most.

  3. Stevenickse
    January 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    It’s clear that he’s afraid of the federal government. Nothing has changed – we have to stand up against the bully’s. Other states are taking a stand, why does Sanchez stand in the way of the will of the people? He was elected to do the will of the people. No matter what. So he should do it.

  4. Aj
    January 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Sanchez needs to talk face to face with patients,who use cannabis to relieve pain, so he can receive a reality dose of possible human compassion, instead of worrying what the idiotic federal laws imposed on a plant, and actually serve the citizens in MA in a positive manner. We don’t need anymore corrupt clueless tools posing as politicians talking hope and change.

  5. Jeff Herman
    January 21, 2012 at 10:45 am

    We need someone to run against Jeff Sanchez next year. Now is not too soon to begin organizing. Any competent individual should be able to win as Jeff Sanchez’s support in the community is paper thin. He is an abismal representative of his community.

  6. Massvocals
    January 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I have UC  and sanchez  would rather have me arrested  and jailed  because  he deems that i can not grow my own meds  without  interference  when he knows that 78% of the citizen have already made there will known   this man has continue this campaign over and over  and must be laughing  ha ha ha  well i think i move to his district  .. ha ha ha   massvocals  

  7. JH2
    January 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Of course he could stripped the dispensing part from the bill and passed the patient protections if he wanted

  8. Anonymous
    January 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Shame on  Sánchez and the legislature for not moving this bill forward.

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