Wellesley police chief: Marijuana is not Medicine

Here’s a letter passed along from Wellesley Police Department regarding Question 3 (Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative) on this November’s ballot (UPDATE: Former Wellesley deputy chief/current Norwood police chief Bill Brooks issued the exact same message):

On November 6, Massachusetts voters will be asked to decide whether or not to permit the growing, sale and possession of “medical marijuana” (Question 3).  If the initiative passes, 35 marijuana dispensaries will open across the commonwealth and people who claim financial and transportation challenges will be permitted to grow their own marijuana. 

The Town of Wellesley, through the Board of Selectmen and the voters, has moved methodically and strategically regarding alcohol licensing regulations, the current regulations don’t allow liquor stores or bars to operate.  Ironically, should this ballot initiative pass a marijuana dispensary would have the right to open in any business district in the Town of Wellesley without the approval of the Board of Selectmen or the voters. 

I sympathize with people who suffer from a chronic or terminal disease, but Question 3 is not about that.  Most professional medical associations maintain that marijuana is not a medicine at all and that it should not be administered to patients.  Among groups that have taken formal stances against “medical marijuana” are the American Medical Association, the British Medical Association, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies and the American Cancer Society.

The active ingredient in marijuana is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC.  For decades, it has been on the market as a prescription drug in capsule form and available to doctors who believe it would help their patients.  The proponents of Question 3 support the smoking of marijuana, a carcinogen, over the administration of THC by prescription.

According to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, the committee supporting Question 3 has raised nearly 1.1 million dollars already.  Of that amount, 96% came from outside Massachusetts.  This is nothing new.  Prior to the 2008 election, the committee supporting marijuana decriminalization raised 1.2 million, 83% of which came from outside Massachusetts. 

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has no accepted medical use.  Doctors cannot prescribe it.  So if a doctor signs off on a marijuana card, he or she is not held to the same standard as if he had issued a prescription.  The growing and distribution of marijuana that would be allowed under Question 3 are violations of federal law and subject to enforcement action by federal law enforcement agencies.  A state cannot legalize something that is prohibited under federal law.  In late September, US law enforcement agents raided a number of dispensaries in California.  While the Obama administration initially announced that it would not take enforcement action against dispensaries in states with “medical marijuana” laws, they have reversed that position and US attorneys are taking enforcement action in many states.

Law enforcement agencies in other states have reported young, healthy looking people carrying marijuana and marijuana cards signed by doctors who have become an easy mark.  One of the factors that drive drug use among teens is perception of risk.  If you let kids think that marijuana has value as a medicine, more will be willing to smoke it.  While not all kids who smoke marijuana will move on to other drugs, the vast majority of people who become addicted drank alcohol at an early age and smoked marijuana. 

The text of Question 3 is available online, but the salient parts of the initiative are:

  • People would be permitted to possess and carry marijuana if they obtain a marijuana card authorized by a physician.  The cards never expire, allowing cardholders to use marijuana indefinitely.
  • The standard for issuance of a card includes several maladies, but the paragraph ends with the words, “and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualified patient’s physician.”  In other words, a physician may authorize a person to obtain marijuana for a wide variety of reasons.
  • People with marijuana cards would be permitted to carry up to a sixty day supply of marijuana.  The law would direct the Department of Public Health to determine what a sixty day supply is.  (It just may be that DPH should be attending to more important matters than this.)
  • In the first year, there may be 35 marijuana dispensaries around the state, but DPH would have the authority to raise that number after the first year.
  • DPH “shall” issue authorization to a person to grow his own marijuana if he has a financial hardship, a physical incapacity to access transportation or a lack of a dispensary within a reasonable distance.  Those terms are not further defined.

Colorado currently has over 100,000 medical marijuana cardholders – the majority of these “patients” are young males with a history of substance abuse. Additionally, in Colorado, a recent survey of teenagers in rehab uncovered that 74% of these kids admitted they originally acquired their marijuana from someone who was getting it for “Medical Marijuana” purposes.

Marijuana is a street drug; it is not medicine.  Growing it or dispensing it violates federal law, regardless of what Massachusetts voters may approve.  As has been the case in other states that have passed similar measures, the passage of Question 3 would lead to an increase in crime, particularly near dispensaries, an increase in the availability of the drug on the street, even more of an increase in impeded motor vehicle operation than we have seen since decriminalization and the diversion of marijuana to adolescents. 

I hope the voters of Wellesley see through this medical marijuana hoax.

Terrence M. Cunningham

Chief of Police

 

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13 Comments

  1. Greg
    Posted October 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Jay Marinol is far more potent than marijuana .. this is why it doesn’t work .. and your reference to prescription meds and heroin .. really .. pull your head out of your butt . The problem with people like you is you classify marijuana with hard narcotics , when the fact is it is less addictive than caffeine and safer than aspirin .. looks like more reefer madness .. hmmm how many people go on crime sprees because they can’t get marijuana .. how many rob banks because they can’t get marijuana .. how many overdose on marijuana .. ummm ZERO ! .. Yet you bring heroin into the discussion .. truly ignorant

  2. Ted Wright
    Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    My wife has stage IV, metastatic breast cancer. She is currently being treated at a major cancer hospital as a participant in a phase I clinical trial that has miraculously held off this dreaded disease for going on three years now. In all she has endured almost twenty years of treatments. The year before last, after having lost over thirty pounds due to anorexia directly related to the trial drugs, she was told that she must stop losing weight or they would have to remove her from the trial. None of the standard anti-emetic worked for her and out of desperation, she tried cannabis. It worked almost immediately, allowing her to regain some of the weight and continue on the trial!

    Having had this experience, I began a quest for greater understanding of cannabis and I have since met with many people who use it for pain relief. When you compare the addictive properties of cannabis to other, legal substances it shows great promise. It does work in some instances and those folks who benefit from it are either completely off their opiate based drugs or have dramatically reduced their use. For these folks it is a wonderful thing to be out from under the malaise of a much more addictive substance. The NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) refuses to allow further, unfettered study claiming that it can only be studied “as a substance of abuse” even though its addictive properties are on par with that of caffeine. Its properties are very different from the much more highly addictive properties of tobacco, opiates or alcohol and its toxicity is far less than aspirin or caffeine.

    Our reticence to allow cannabis to be considered as a legitimate medicine stems from a complex situation that is governed by years of disinformation, fear and ignorance. In my experience, the people who are most adamant that cannabis has no use are the ones who make a living eradicating it. President Nixon, who was exposed as one of the most crooked politicians this country has ever known, started the modern “war” on cannabis by ignoring the facts and the advice of his own commission on the subject. He did it for political gain and nothing else.

    Now our government seems to be stuck in a situation that prevents them from allowing a sincere look at the facts. Forty years of anti “marijuana” campaign has blinded our leadership into thinking that cannabis prohibition, medical or otherwise, is good for us and we now have some 70% of the population that agree that cannabis should be allowed for medicinal purposes.

    It’s time to show compassion to patients who can sincerely benefit from cannabis…

  3. Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Sativex oral spray is easier to take than smoking a joint, vaporizing or eating a marijuana edible. Patients should enroll in clinical trials of Sativex which in many countries has had great success in treating pain, nausea, and spasms of the seriously ill. Sativex will be widely available in pharmacies in the US in 2013.

    On the other hand, the FDA won’t approve marijuana because it truly is unsafe:

    Detailed Study in California reported by truecompassion.org shows that Marijuana smoke causes cancer, contains 33 different carcinogens:
    EVIDENCE ON THE CARCINOGENICITY of Marijuana Smoke
    “Many of the chemical constituents that have been identified in marijuana smoke are carcinogens.”
    http://truecompassion.org/PDFS/Marijuana%20toxicity%20and%20potency/Evidence%20on%20the%20Carcinogenicity%20of%20MJ%20Smoke.pdf page 5, last paragraph

    “the odds for testicular cancer among men who used marijuana at least weekly were twice that of nonusers.”
    http://truecompassion.org/PDFS/Health%20and%20Mental%20Health/MarijuanaandTesticularCancerNIDANotes.pdf

    “Other research has shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke.”
    Office of National Drug Control Policy
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/Fact_Sheets/marijuana_fact_sheet_jw_10-5-10.pdf page 2 Health Effects

    Marijuana doesn’t sound like medicine to me.

    • greg
      Posted October 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Thomas your testicular cancer study was based on a very small group and actually stated the ones who used it more showed no signs … so the moral of the story .. I think I can make my own conclusion ! Tobacco is known to cause cancer .. emphazima .. and many other medical conditions .. much more harmful than marijuana with no medicinal values whatsoever .. yet is completely legal .. yet millions have used marijuana for medicinal purposes .. so we’re to take your professional medical opinion … I think not

  4. NathanW
    Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    I live in Denver. I would like to know what increases in crime the chief is talking about. Denver is one of the safer larger metropolitan areas in the US, and considering these dispensaries exist in ritzy areas like Cherry Creek (so far in 2012 has had 0 murders, 5 aggravated assaults, 4 rapes, 0 kidnappings,12 robberies, 38 burglaries, and 9 simple assaults…in an area where probably 10,000 or so people live and many more thousands visit to shop on a daily basis, and in an area that has 10 or so dispensaries) which is really safe, it’s hard to make some dumbass claim that they are increasing crime. I’m sure he can point to a robbery or two, but hell, an Autozone here got robbed yet I doubt anyone would make the claim that auto parts stores cause crime.

    • kevin hunt
      Posted October 30, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Right you are Nathan. I avoid the bars in my neighborhood because of the fighting drunks, but I have never seen anything criminal happen around the dispensaries.

      “There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study. These results suggest that the density of medical marijuana dispensaries may not be associated with crime rates or that other factors, such as measures dispensaries take to reduce crime (i.e., doormen, video cameras), may increase guardianship such that it deters possible motivated offenders.”

      Source: J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2012 Jul;73(4):523-30.
      Exploring the ecological association between crime and medical marijuana dispensaries.
      Kepple NJ, Freisthler B. Department of Social Welfare, University of California, Los Angeles, Luskin School of Public Affairs, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656, USA

  5. kevin hunt
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Quoting Terrence M. Cunningham: “Law enforcement agencies in other states have reported young, healthy looking people carrying marijuana cards signed by doctors”

    You have proven that marijuana users don’t want to be criminals and are willing to fill out the proper paperwork and get their marijuana from a safe, regulated source. This is somehow “worse” than buying it illegally from gangs? These people use marijuana and they look healthy? That’s proof that marijuana doesn’t make one look unhealthy.

    “the vast majority of people who become addicted drank alcohol at an early age”

    So we should ban alcohol again?

    “Marijuana is a street drug; it is not medicine.”

    This statement proves nothing. It’s a “street drug” because it has been forced onto “the street”, not regulated. Prohibition is not regulation.

    The American Medical Association was against the banning of marijuana in 1937, and they have re-endorsed it as medicine in 2009. Are you saying a policeman knows more about this subject than the American Medical Association? Not likely…

    “There is positively no evidence to indicate the abuse of cannabis as medicinal agent or to show that its medical use is leading to the development of cannabis addiction. Cannabis at the present time is slightly used for medical purposes, but it would seem worthwhile to maintain its status as a medicinal agent for such purposes as it now has. There is a possibility that a restudy of the drug by modern means may show other advantages to be derived from its medical use. “

Testimony at the Atlantic City Convention of the American Medical Association, June 1937. “Report of Committee on Legislative Activities,” JAMA, 108 (June 26, 1937): 2214.

    The American Medical Association has reported that “Results of short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass,and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.” Source: REPORT 3 OF THE COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND PUBLIC HEALTH (I-09) Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes (Resolutions 910, I-08;921, I-08;and 229, A-09) (Reference Committee K)

  6. Joey
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Right, ;so let me get this straight. The hundreds of scientific studies, tens of thousands of doctors all around the world, and millions of patients are all wrong. 5000 years of history are all wrong, but the sheriff, a man with as much medical expertise as my dog, he is right? That’s why the idiots with badges are the beef, not the brains. Not to mention they are hooked like a three toothed meth head to the “war on drugs” budget. Sorry sheriff, what me and my doctor decide is between us. Pop pills till you drop you idiot, I’m taking a different rout.

  7. Gustavo Picciuto
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    “…I sympathize with people who suffer from a chronic or terminal disease, but Question 3 is not about that…”

    No you don’t because question is 3 is precisely about that. It is about people who need access to a medicine which brings them relief that other more toxic and addicting medication does not. The United States government DOES believe it’s medicine because it has been dispensing Marijuana to a select group of people for a few decades now; most famously Irv Rosenfeld. The federal government also has patents which use Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants; check out US Patent 6630507. The only reason the institutions you claim denounce the use of Marijuana is because it is not patent or backed by a mayor Pharmaceutical company and they benefit from the exclusion of this plant as a medicine. It has been used as medicine far longer than this government has existed and will be for years to come.

    “…Marijuana is a street drug; it is not medicine. Growing it or dispensing it violates federal law, regardless of what Massachusetts voters may approve…”

    It is amazing the level of disconnect that a “Chief of Police” has from the truth and what’s right. It is a street drug but solely because of it’s legal status which took it from the United States pharmacopoeia to the streets when the racist agenda of the 1930’s took hold. Prohibition results in Marijuana as a “stepping-stone” drug and as a useless street drug; both avoidable by legalizing and regulating. If the voters approve this law, it must be respected by you and the states officials.

    “…Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress…”

    -Martin Luther King Jr.

  8. Greg
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    What’s the affinity for laws conceived, born and nurtured from lies greed and racism?
    Marijuana is the 21st Century “Boogey Man”. It suffers from purely unfounded.
    accusations and fears with a corrupt political system having an interest.
    in keeping it illegal along with the Prohibitionists who profit from it

    Lie #1 Gateway Drug.
    Marijuana is NOT a Gateway Drug. Here’s a 12 Yr Univ Study that says so;.
    Andrew Hryckowian – University of Pittsburgh.
    http://www.pitt.edu/~ugr/Hrych2.pdf
    Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Raven-… Marijuana is not a.
    “gateway” drug.

    Lie #2 Marijuana is addictive.
    Marijuana is no more addictive or and less harmful than Caffeine;.
    Dr Henningfield is a former NIDA Staffer;.
    Addictiveness of Marijuana – ProCon.org.
    http://www.procon.org/view.background...
    urce.php? resourceID=1492
    In April 1997, after reviewing the literature, Dr. Henningfield changed
    his ratings of marijuana and caffeine’s tolerance and dependence to 5’s.
    and 6’s.

    Lie #’s 3 & 4, Marijuana has not Medicinal Use and is Dangerous.

    AND, In 1988, a DEA Administrative judge wrote, in a report.
    Commissioned by the DEA; “16. Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of.
    the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any
    measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a.
    supervised routine of medical care.”
    http://www.ccguide.org/young88…”

    For good measure, Med Marijuana doesn’t increase teen use.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57456999-10391704/medical-marijua
    wont-boost-teen-pot-use-study-finds/

    • Posted October 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      gateway drug is another way of saying we got no game so we make stuff up

  9. Greg
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    The chief sympathizes .. hmmm doesn’t sound like it .. and most medical professionals .. hmmm again . So does that mean the medical professionals that do say it has medicinal properties are wrong … the millions of people who use it rather than take prescription meds which are far worse and sometimes fatal wrong ? .. chief do your job .. protect and serve .. you are not a medical professional . The fact is marijuana is safer than tobacco .. alcohol and prescription meds .. no one has ever overdosed on marijuana … fact ! Its impossible ! VOTE YES ON 3 !

    • J Lyons
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Perfect quote once again Greg. Yes everyone knows marijuana has medicinal properties that are extracted and once isolated can have medical benefit. Kind of the same way that opiates are isolated compounds from the poppy plant used in Percocet etc. But we dont smoke opium and call it a medicinally benficial drug. This is the same reason why we have Marinol, which is a schedule III drug allowed by the DEA and the FDA and has passed all the rigorous testing to become “medicine.” What do all the medical experts you know say about pot brownies, and pot candy and lollipops? That’s probably medicine too right? If so maybe Drakes Cakes will market medicine too; how bout Dum Dum lollipops, mixed with a little THC; medicine? Put down the blunt and snap out of it Greg. Marijuana causes distorted thought perception Greg.

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