SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Election

October 12, 2012

Question 3 seeks to legalize medical marijuana

(Continued)

Put forward by the Committee for Compassionate Medicine, Question 3 aims to remove punishment under state law for “patients, physicians and health care professionals, personal caregivers for patients, or medical marijuana treatment center agents for the medical use of marijuana.”

Marijuana would be recommended for those with a “debilitating medical condition” such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis “and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.”

“Who determines who has a medical condition?” asked Danvers police Chief Neil Ouellette, who said his research into medical marijuana in other states found that the most prevalent use for it is to treat back pain.

“I have seen what substance abuse has done in a community, and it’s a dangerous road to go down,” said Ouellette, who said that as a public official he can speak “from a public policy perspective.”

However, proponents say the measure carries numerous safeguards, given the lessons learned in the 17 other states where medicinal marijuana has been legalized, said Jennifer Manley, spokeswoman for the Committee for Compassionate Medicine.

In the states where medical marijuana ran into problems, states did not repeal their laws but instead attempted to fix the system, said Whitney Taylor of the Committee for Compassionate Medicine.

Under the proposal, patients and physicians would have to register with the state. Dispensary agents and caregivers must be at least 21. Dispensary agents could not be convicted drug felons. Marijuana cultivation and storage must take place in locked, secured facilities.

Patients and physicians would also have to prove an authentic doctor-patient relationship, and there would be limits on how much supply — 60 days — a person could obtain.

Statewide, the number of medical marijuana treatment centers would be capped at 35, and no more than five would be allowed to operate in any one county. To deter someone from defrauding the system, the law also creates a new misdemeanor and a new felony, punishable with up to five years in prison for distribution, sale or trafficking, Manley said.

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