SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Election Forum

November 3, 2012

Letter: Question 3 bad news for youth

To the editor:

As a parent, teacher and concerned citizen, I am writing to ask members of our communities to educate themselves about ballot Question 3 — the medicinal use of marijuana. What I have learned is that while ballot Question 3 initially looks as if it is about compassionate use, as a very well-funded “VOTE YES” group is presenting it, it will really create avenues for our kids to have increased access to pot. In fact, two independent peer-reviewed studies conducted in 2011 found that marijuana use among teens in medical marijuana states is higher. Marijuana use among Massachusetts youth is already 30 percent higher than the national average, and more kids go to addiction treatment for pot use than all other drugs combined!

A yes vote would create loopholes and opportunities for exploitation and abuse, making access to marijuana even easier. This is bad news for our kids and our communities. The National Institutes of Health link marijuana use to respiratory problems, learning deficiencies and impaired driving. While there are some patients who find comfort in this therapy, studies show that the majority of “medical marijuana” users are not the chronically sick and dying. In Colorado, 2 percent of the state’s registered medical marijuana patients reported cancer, and less than 1 percent reported HIV/AIDS. Rather, 94 percent reported needing the drug for “severe pain.” In California, the average user is a 32-year-old white male with a history of cocaine, alcohol and meth abuse, and no history of life-threatening illness.

A yes vote on Question 3 would enable 35 marijuana dispensaries to open in Massachusetts in the first year, with the potential for more to come. These establishments operate mainly as “cash only” businesses and attract crime. Medicinal “pot shops” are often tied with other criminal activity — guns, drugs, violence — and anyone over the age of 21 can open one. No medical training required!

Let us take a lesson from the playbook of states that have already passed this question and are now dealing with the dire consequences — widespread marijuana abuse among youth, increased crime and diminished communities. As informed, concerned, and caring citizens, let’s vote NO on Question 3!

Meredith Shaw

Boxford

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