Stirring the pot on medical marijuana

Recently I wrote a blog indicating I was tilting yes on Question 3 on medical marijuana. I’m still leaning that way, but I was given pause by a response I received from an individual in law enforcement in California whom I respect but who, because of his position, does not want to be identified.  According to him, my potential support is a “classic mistake of well meaning liberals on this issue that (a) this has anything to do with medicine (rather than money) and (b) that they will be able to close loopholes later. ” I share this with my readers because it has to be weighed with all the other information in the push to allow dispensaries to provide marijuana in controlled circumstances for the relief of symptoms of certain diseases.

This individual believes that medical use of marijuana is “a complete sham,” that it’s an industry “like big tobacco or the gun lobby.”  In fact, an article in the L.A. Times cites the huge profits generated for “non-profits” selling marijuana for medical purposes.  Baby boomers supporting medical marijuana, he says, fail to recognize that the pot they knew during the sixties”(with active levels of 4-7 % THC) has been replaced by a more potent drug with THC levels frequently above 20% and up to 30%.  Even in… Holland, the government has now banned MJ with THC level over 15% because of its harm to youths, and because they consider it an entirely different drug from that traditionally associated with marijuana.”  

He concedes there is “some arguable, limited medical benefit” but, like opponents in Massachusetts, says a synthetic pill, marinol, is available. Experts among referendum supporters maintain that inhaling generates a better response than the synthetic version.  

The key to whether one should support or oppose this referendum is one’s relative optimism about the legislature’s ability to close known loopholes. It’s going to be a challenge for the Massachusetts legislature to refine the parameters for medical marijuana and for the health department and legal system to enforce them.  The recent record of public health regulators (think crime lab, compounding pharmacies) is not reassuring.  And once  the marijuana industry is established here and starts reaping huge profits, the power of lobbyists to stave off further regulation could be formidable.

It makes me wonder if outright legalization isn’t what we should be discussing. Should we be talking about treating marijuana like tobacco?  Regulating its production, taxing the hell out of it, and having the government reap the benefits of additional revenues.

I’m in a quandary over this and welcome your comments in the section below.

12 thoughts on “Stirring the pot on medical marijuana

  1. John, Your comments are very compelling, and your personal experience very persuasive. Last night’s Sixty Minutes program gave a somewhat reassuring portrait of the Colorado experience, which is light years better regulated than California. Let’s hope the Massachusetts legislature can refine this new law, assuming it is passed, so it works to everyone’s benefit.


  2. John Madfis

    I disagree with the assessment of Question 3 offered by Marjorie Arons-Barron’s anonymous law enforcement friend from California (Stirring the Pot on Medical Marijuana, 10/20). Opponents have been wildly misleading in their portrayal of this initiative. If approved by the voters, Question 3 will establish a completely different system than the medical marijuana law in California.

    There will be a maximum of 35 non-profit treatment centers in the state, with no more than five treatment centers in any one county. The state will register all treatment centers, require all staff to pass a criminal background check, and can modify the number of centers in later years only if there is a finding by the state that patient needs are not being met. It will also be the safest medical marijuana law in the country and makes it a felony for anyone who obtains marijuana by defrauding the medical marijuana system for distribution.

    My son has Crohn’s Disease. Over the past 17 years he has spent much time in hospitals and been unable to eat solid foods. He has been prescribed a variety of drugs that never brought an end to constant diarrhea and pain. He had his colon removed to address these symptoms but unfortunately, problems continued with infections, fistulas, and abscesses. He continued to face the dilemma of either eating which would cause a host problems or abstaining. He lost 30 pounds. Now in his thirties, he uses medical marijuana to ease his pain and increase his appetite. The THC pill would not work for him since it is not completely absorbed by patients with no colon. It is useless to patients with conditions that cause vomiting and can cost thousands a dollars a month which is why insurance companies often refuse to pay for it.

    About two years ago, his doctor advised that he get a colostomy bag. He had spent years avoiding that possibility as one would expect of a young man. He will always face challenges and continues to struggle with surgeries and abscesses. Medical marijuana has been very helpful in dealing with the issues of pain and loss of appetite. What parent would not want the best treatment for their child? Please vote yes on Question 3.


  3. What we have now ,prohibition, is part of the problem,not the solution. So how is it possible that sensible intelligent persons can argue for keeping the status quo. Medical marijuana has had its problems in implementation,but its because the federal government has created an illegal criminal market with prohibition. Its time to decriminalize and regulate it as alcohol.


  4. Same question for you, mavoteNOonquestion3com.

    Can you name any significant study of the drug laws in the last 100 years, from anywhere in the world, that said that marijuana prohibition is a good idea?

    For that matter, can you name any significant study of the drug laws at all?

    Not that your information was correct, anyway. But it is noticeable that you prohibitionists are no longer arguing that marijuana will turn you into a bat. When did the reasons change from the six-inch fangs and the bat?


  5. PS. Ballot Question 3 is binding. If it passes on November 6th, it will be very, very difficult – if not impossible for legislators to make adjustments to it. Stated in the 6 pages of law, ballot question 3 would be enacted on January 1st regardless of whether regulations are in place. People would be able to buy and grow marijuana unregulated until DPH gets the oversight measures in place. Given our stressed and underfunded state of DPH, developing the regulations on a new state drug dispensary and grow operation could take years.
    Ballot Question 3 also includes “Severability” language that makes it impossible to repeal if it doesn’t work out. If any clause, sentence or section of the measure is found to be flawed of invalid, the judgment is confined to that particular clause, sentence or section and does not affect the rest of the law. This means, if something goes awry, only small pieces of the law can be repealed at a time, the entire law could not be thrown out at once. This has created havoc for California and Colorado because they can only reverse course through costly legal battles, one small component at a time.


  6. Your law enforcement friend in California is absolutely correct, and the Vote NO Campaign writes to appeal to you to change your position and fully oppose this ballot initiative in the interest of public health and safety of the Commonwealth.

    In this last year of deep and rigorous research, we’ve learned that states that pass these measures are hard pressed to be able to change or alter them, and as they try, it becomes incredibly costly. For example, this past week, the State of Rhode Island’s effort to tighten their medical marijuana law (limiting medical marijuana recommendations to physician’s only) was met with an ACLU law-suit. The City Council of Boulder Colorado is now in hot pursuit of re-crafting their regulations because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of loss to the city each year to manage and oversee the big and lucrative business of medical marijuana (

    Ballot Question 3, with its expanse of loopholes and risks for exploitation is seriously flawed and must not pass if the Commonwealth wants to avoid the cost, nuisance and dangers that other states with similar laws are experiencing. The burden will land on each and every Massachusetts city and town to deal with the mess it will create, if passed.

    The concept of medical marijuana for many seems reasonable – we all have compassion for others who are suffering and want those with debilitating illnesses to have an array of treatment choices. However, it is important to clarify that voters on Nov. 6 won’t be asked simply to approve the concept of medical marijuana, but instead they will vote on the actual nuts and bolts of a major new state law that would set up a new, unique, extensive big business industry that has not been vetted through our state legislators for standard protections and safeguards, and is in direct violation to federal law.

    Here are just a few of the loopholes found and questions raised in the ballot question:

    Zoning: Marijuana shops and grow operations could be allowed anywhere in a city or town, including areas located next to schools, churches, playgrounds, hospitals, athletic fields, parks, etc.

    No age limits: There is no age limit specified in the law, meaning teenagers, or even children, would be eligible for lifetime medical marijuana cards

    Tax breaks and subsidies: As a “non-profit” industry, treatment facilities and grow operations would not be subject to local property taxes, or sales taxes, even if sales exceed millions of dollars annually, and treatment center owners collect six-figure salaries.

    No expiration date: Once issued, medical marijuana registration cards are valid for life. Patients would not have to be examined by a physician again.

    No prescription: Physicians would not issue “prescriptions” for marijuana; they’d issue certifications that then become medical marijuana cards. These certifications would not be tracked by the state’s prescription monitoring program.

    Shopping sprees: Since there will be no monitoring system in place, there will be no way to track whether a medical marijuana patient has made multiple purchases on multiple days from multiple shops – just so long as that person doesn’t get caught with more than a 60-day supply on them at any one time.

    Grow co-ops: Personal care attendants could form co-ops, and grow marijuana in large-scale grow operations. These grow-houses would not be restricted to certain industrial areas, and could be sited in residential neighborhoods.

    Most liberal restrictions this side of California: Massachusetts would be the only state other than California that gives physicians the sole discretion to determine what conditions should be treated with medical marijuana. Although the law specifically states that ALS, MS, AIDS and cancer are among those considered a “debilitating medical condition,” it also includes “other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.” This could include subjective conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress, headaches or sleep disorders.

    DPH as DEA: The law places DPH in charge of enforcing all rules and regulations, including whether a shop is selling to only those with medical cards, whether a grow operation has proper security controls in place, or if its selling product out the back door. In addition, there would likely be a substantial budgetary impact on DPH. While the law claims registration fees will offset costs, the actual costs of properly enforcing the law (as a mini-DEA) will be in the millions of dollars – a price tag too high to be paid for by simple registration fees from 35 facilities.

    There is growing evidence of buyers remorse in other states that have approved medical marijuana ballot questions. In California, where the average medical marijuana card holder is a 30-something male with no underlying physical ailment, loose oversight and regulations have resulted in many communities moving to ban the shops after running into problems with neighborhood decay and addiction. One of the original drafters of that state’s ballot question has described the industry as “little more than dope dealers with store fronts.”

    In Colorado, loose regulation has resulted in that state becoming a major black-market supplier for the rest of the nation. A recent DEA found medical marijuana grown in Colorado, and sold out back doors, in 17 different states over a three-week period. Also, in highlighting the ease at which medical marijuana can be diverted, a study of teens being treated for substance abuse in Colorado found that 74% of those surveyed had used or been given somebody else’s medical marijuana an average of 50 times.

    All of this is without getting into the major prescription drug abuse problem we face in Massachusetts; a problem fueled by legal medications prescribed by physicians.

    By voting No on Question 3 we are not closing the door to our chronically ill in Massachusetts; instead we are saying this is just not the right legislation for what we would like to accomplish with compassionate care.

    I hope you will reconsider your position and stand strong against ballot question 3. We know from our research that this it a movement across the country to repeal prohibition on the backs of our most vulnerable. Massachusetts is smarter than this and we all need to be fully informed to avoid being duped like other states have been.


    1. These people are hacks! All of their information comes without sources. When you research any point on their site, you see they skewed results to make their side look better (and one of their top three reasons to vote no was “because informed voters vote no”. I have tried on numerous platforms (fb, twitter, their site, e-mail) to ask them to provide proof and actually inform voters with the truth and have yet to get any response or see any change in their lie tactics.

      They are supposed to be informing voters, but people who read their site are the least informed voters of all. I am appalled that one of their main points implies that 62% of MA voters are uninformed… or stupid. Do not expect facts from them! They are nothing more than part of the problem!


  7. I totally agree it is a sham! They make money and send at least half their meds out of state for profit. But the amount of profit the US gov makes by paying themselves 6 digit salaries to fight this war they created it is just money laundering for their “legal” gang! So to think for one second the police dont financially benefit off prohibition is just crazy. Thousands of people would loose those 6 digit salaries and be un-employed if marijuana were legalized. Your asking the government to slit it’s own throat as far as their militarized police force goes. As well as judges too. The Government is the Cartel so they can take care of themselves.


  8. I have asked every US Drug Czar since William Bennett (under Reagan) one simple question:

    Over the last 100 years, there have been numerous major government commissions around the world that have studied the drug laws and made recommendations for changes. Can you name any significant study of the drug laws in the last 100 years that supports our current policy?

    I have received personal replies from every Drug Czar. Not one of them could name any such study. In fact, it was apparent that not one of them had even read the studies I have already collected. You can find the full text of all these studies at under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy. You don’t have take my word for what they say. Read them yourself.

    Ask your anonymous friend if he has read any of those. He won’t have read any of them. Most likely, he will tell you that they are biased, or outdated, or don’t count for whatever reason — even while it is apparent that he can’t name the titles of any of them and has never laid eyes on them. Try it and see.

    There are two major characteristics of prohibitionists. The first is that they really don’t know anything about the subject. You will be all to tell that as soon as you get done reading some of the history and research. Ask them simple factual questions (like “When and why was mj originally outlawed?”) and they won’t be able to tell you.

    Then ask your friend to read the research. That will make clear the second major characteristic of prohibitionists — they really don’t want to know anything. I am betting that he will refuse to read any of it. He will make all sorts of lame excuses. He may even tell you that he HAS read it — even while it is apparent that he can’t tell you the first thing about what they said. But, through it all, he will steadfastly refuse to read. That is the real drug problem, right there. If you read the history, you will find that our drug laws and policies have been built and supported by people who are willfully blind — and proud of it.


  9. If you really want to know about this subject, start by reading the following items:

    The short history of the marijuana laws at This is funny and not what you expected.

    Licit and Illicit Drugs by the Editors of Consumer Reports at This is the best overall review of the drug problem ever written. It has been used as basic college textbook for decades. If you haven’t read it, then you don’t really understand the problem. Your anonymous friend who is against mmj has never read it (or any of these other references) — guaranteed.

    “Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding” by the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse at This is the largest study of the drug laws ever done, commissioned by President Nixon and staffed by his hand-picked law-and-order friends. After two years of study, they said the real drug problem was not marijuana, or heroin, or cocaine. The real drug problem, they said, was the ignorance of our public officials who have never bothered to read the most basic research.

    The Drug Hang-Up at This is another excellent history of the laws, written by a former President of the American Bar Association. He once formed a joint committee with the AMA to study the drug laws. He soon found out that was a major mistake. He discovered that government officials really don’t like objective studies of the drug laws.

    If you are really interested, you can find the complete transcripts of the hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 at Particularly interesting is Harry Anslinger’s testimony where he said there is no connection at all between marijuana and harder drugs. Also interesting is the reasons for the law — such as the effect on the “degenerate races” and the tale of the unnamed high school girl who said she knew another girl who smoked a joint with her boyfriend — and they went so crazy that they eloped and got married.

    If you want more information on the history, you can find several different histories by different authors, as well as the full text of hundreds of original historical documents at

    If you do enough reading (and it won’t take much) you will find that the evidence against these laws is simply overwhelming. If someone tells you that marijuana should not be legalized, you know instantly that they have never read any of the research above, and couldn’t answer the most basic factual questions.

    And if you want to invite your anonymous friend to this forum to try to defend his silly ideas, please do. The legalizers put the full text of the research on the Internet almost twenty years ago and the prohibitionists haven’t won a debate since. Check any forum on the net where this is discussed. Even the major prohibitionist organizations have already admitted that they have lost the debate on the Internet.


  10. Did this person who opposes mmj tell you that the US Federal Govt. distributes medical marijuana to a number of patients each month? The reason they do this is because some of those patients went to court and proved to a legal certainty that marijuana is the only medicines suitable for their needs. Did this person also tell you about the Institute of Medicine report (1999) commissioned by the Drug Czar to answer the question of whether mj is really medical? You can find the full text of the report at under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy. They found that there are some patients for whom there is simply no good alternative to medical marijuana.

    Glad you asked the question about legalization. First, why is marijuana illegal in the first place?

    Mj was originally outlawed for two major reasons. The first was because “All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes them crazy.” The second was the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana – exactly the opposite of the modern “gateway” idea.

    Only one medical doctor testified at the hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, The representative of the American Medical Association said there was no evidence that mj was a dangerous drug and no reason for the law. He pointed out that it was used in hundreds of common medicines at the time, with no significant problems. In response, the committee told him that, if he wasn’t going to cooperate, he should shut up and leave.

    The only other “expert” to testify was James C. Munch, a psychologist. His sole claim to fame was that he had done an experiment where he injected mj directly into the brains of 300 dogs and two of them died. When they asked him what he concluded from this, he said he didn’t know what to conclude because he wasn’t a dog pscyhologist. He also testified in court, under oath, that marijuana would make your fangs grow six inches long and drip with blood. He also said that, when he tried it, it turned him into a bat, and he then described how he flew around the room for two hours.

    Mr. Munch was the only “expert” in the US who thought mj should be illegal, so he was appointed US Official Expert on marijuana, where he served — and guided policy — for 25 years. See the short history of the laws at

    Ask your anonymous friend if he can tell you in what year the marijuana laws became based on anything but absolute lunacy.


  11. John Roberts

    Almost four years ago Michigan legalized medical marijuana and for the past 2 and 1/2 Years the Michigan Cannabis Cancer Project has been freely providing Cannabis oil to state licensed medical marijuana patients that have been diagnosed with cancer and have chosen to use cannabis oil instead of chemo radiation. As a result of providing cannabis oil made as instructed by Rick Simpson and following his recommended dosage of a gram a day until the cancer is in remission. I have been witnessed to over 15 cases of various cancers being eliminated with only using cannabis oil. I have had the honor of talking to Rick Simpson on several occasions and I believe the world owes Mr Simpson a debt of Gratitude for freely sharing and instructing the world on how to make this oil. At least a couple of Parents I know personaly are deeply grateful to Rick Simpson for sharing this knowlegd one such case is the parents of a 16 yr old diagnosed a year ago in July with terminal brain cancer the spider web type the parents were told that she that she would have about 18 months to live and that chemo radiation could buy her a few more months. After some research and careful consideration amongst the family members they decided to use cannabis oil as instructed by Rick Simpson and only cannabis oil not chemo radiation. Well its been a year now and she has been consuming a gram or more a day for year. The last test results in February showed that we stopped the growth and she has been living life as normal teenager with out loosing her hair and getting sick oh she also passed her drivers training with flying colors along with her DMV road test while consuming a daily dose of cannabis . This is just one of the cases that we provided for and have test results that prove that cannabis oil cures cancer eliminates cancer or kills cancer.
    The Cannabis Cancer Project is committed in discovering and sharing the truth about this oil that is why we go to great lengths to providing this oil free to cancer patients that have chosen and are committed to this form of treatment.
    But none of this could be possible it were not for people that care and donate to this cause. Just Like Mr Rick Simpson who started it all.
    If you would like to donate in to this cause you can buy Ricks newly released book or email the cannabis Cancer Project
    Check out Rick Simpsons newly realeased book Phoenix Tears the Rick Simpson Story you can get a copy at
    Michigan Cannabis Cancer Project


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