Marijuana debate intensifying ahead of Nov. 8 vote

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As the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on Monday joined those opposing a ballot question legalizing marijuana for adult use, the question’s supporters knocked reports that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is giving $1 million to the campaign pushing to defeat the proposal.

“Massachusetts voters are smart enough to know that Sheldon Adelson, funder of right wing Super PACs, does not represent Massachusetts values. Now he supports a position out of line with the majority of Massachusetts voters.  It’s time for more sensible marijuana policy,” Rep. Jay Livingstone of Boston said in a statement released by the Yes on 4 campaign.

The Boston Chamber cited public health and other concerns as president and CEO James Rooney outlined the group’s opposition. “The bill is drafted with the wants of the marijuana industry placed before the needs and safety of our communities, including the business community,” Rooney said in a statement. “Some factors weighed in our decision to oppose Question 4 include the dangerously high levels of THC permitted by this proposed bill along with the new ways the drug is being packaged and marketed; the lack of strong local control that would allow communities to decide which and how many recreational marijuana stores can open in a given city or town; and the extremely low tax rates proposed by the bill that could actually lead to state revenue losses after the necessary investment in regulation and oversight of this new industry.”

The Yes on 4 campaign plans to launch a new 30-second ad Tuesday featuring Dr. Susan Lucas, an internist. “All my training – indeed my oath — is to do everything to cure patients. But our current marijuana laws need changing. Right now, patients are afraid to bring up all treatment options for fear of breaking the law,” Lucas says in the ad, according to a transcript of it released by the campaign.

“Yes on 4 means we can regulate and tax and legalize marijuana to help people with pain avoid opiates, and for other true medical needs. The current system isn’t working. It’s why doctors and patients support Yes on 4,” Lucas adds.

On Oct. 4, the Massachusetts Medical Society and 10 statewide physician specialty groups announced their opposition to Question 4.

Massachusetts voters in 2012 approved a medical marijuana law.

— Written by Michael Norton

Copyright State House News Service