Medical marijuana goes on the ballot

July 20, 2012
By

Jamaica Plain residents will soon have an opportunity to help decide whether or not to legalize medical marijuana. The issue has been placed as a question on the state ballot for November.

Supporters of the measure had to gather 79,000 signatures to get the question placed on the ballot.

But local state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez said the issue would present a problem even if the ballot question is approved, as medical marijuana would still be illegal under federal laws.

“It’s still a controlled substance,” said Sachez. “The FDA won’t regulate it. It’s a conundrum. We’ll see what happens.”

Asked if he would like to see the ballot question approved or denied, he said, “I don’t get into that. It’s up to the voters.”

Every year, some type of medical marijuana legalization bill comes before the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health, which Sánchez chairs. He has sent those bills to “study,” effectively killing them. His annual killing of the proposal has angered local and statewide marijuana activists.

Jennifer Manley, spokesperson for the Committee for Compassionate Medicine, which spearheaded the effort to place the question on the ballot, said in an email that medical marijuana would provide an alternative to heavy prescription painkillers.

“The Massachusetts initiative will be the safest medical marijuana law in the country, based on the best practices of 17 other states and the District of Columbia,” she said. “The hallmark of the initiative is state regulation. It requires that doctors writing recommendations have a bona fide relationship with their patients and that the state verifies all recommendations.”

Two other questions were also placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. One question, if approved, would allow terminally ill patients who have been given six months or less to live the ability to obtain lethal drugs to commit suicide.

The other question, if approved, would require automobile manufacturers to provide diagnostics to consumers. In essence, independent repair shops would get information, currently available only to car dealers, that would allow them to fix consumers’ cars.