Vote No on Question 4— Legalizing Commercial Marijuana
As a community hospital, Milford Regional Medical Center’s primary concern is the health and wellbeing of the region we serve. It is because of this that we are taking a stand along with the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) in encouraging citizens to Vote NO on Question 4 when they go to the polls on November 8.
Question 4 threatens the public’s health through the legalization of the commercial marijuana industry in our state. After a careful evaluation of the issue and through consultation with experts and medical leaders, we support MHA’s findings that legalizing the sale of commercial marijuana will undermine the public health and safety of our communities. You need look no farther than the disconcerting news coming out of the few states, such as Colorado and Washington, which have legalized its purchase.
Milford Regional agrees with the following analysis of marijuana legalization, which resulted in the decision of MHA, along with a coalition of healthcare, business and community leaders and a bipartisan group of state and local leaders to oppose the passage of Question 4:
Children and edibles We concur that the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us– our children– is of paramount importance in this discussion. The commercial marijuana industry depends heavily on the sale of THC-laced edible products that are packaged as candy targeted to the youth market. In Colorado, they have found their emergency rooms are routinely treating children who accidentally ingest these products with unregulated THC levels reaching an incredible 95 percent!
Impaired driving Protecting our citizens from harm on the roads would become an even greater challenge than it is today due to impaired drivers using legal marijuana. Traffic deaths in the state of Washington doubled the year after they legalized marijuana, and Colorado has seen a spike in impaired driving deaths as well. Plus, deterring or prosecuting the impaired driver is difficult because there is no breathalyzer test for marijuana.
Home grown allowances Pro marijuana supporters suggest that a provision in Question 4 which allows anyone over 21 to grow marijuana in their homes (even over the objections of neighbors) will enhance tax revenues. What the supporters fail to mention is that, as has been seen in Colorado, a new black market for marijuana is created when you permit a homegrown marijuana industry.
Increased teen use If the sale of commercial marijuana is allowed in Massachusetts, we will most certainly follow in the footsteps of Colorado (the first state to legalize it) which has become the number one state in the nation for teen marijuana use.
Impact on our communities Should Question 4 pass, communities will be limited in their ability to determine the number of marijuana producers and sellers that open in Massachusetts. Keep in mind that there are already more marijuana shops open in Colorado than the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks combined.
Adverse mental health impacts According to The National Alliance of Mental Illness Massachusetts (NAMI), legalization of a commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts will “… pose a great threat to the health and wellbeing of those with mental illness as well as young people predisposed to mental illness.” It will increase use among children and harm the cognitive development of young people.
You need look no further than the two states, Colorado and Washington, which have legalized commercial marijuana to see the negative impact it has had on the health and wellbeing of its residents. I encourage you to join MHA and its member hospitals and healthcare systems to consider Question 4 carefully on election day and Vote NO on Question 4.
Edward J. Kelly, President and CEO, Milford Regional Medical Center
I am disappointed in Mr. Kelly, as he seems to have not actually taken the time out to read the text of the question. In response to each point:
1. The advertisement and sale of any product containing THC would be restricted. No one under the age of 21 may purchase or be in possession of edibles, marijuana buds, or paraphernalia.
2. The text addresses impaired driving and suggests penalties.
3. Teen use has declined, rather than increased. Those who believe otherwise have stuck their heads in the sand for the past ten years. Study after study has confirmed that use and proliferation has declined, rather than increased. I am having difficulty refuting Mr. Kelly’s points, because I can’t actually seem to find the (singular) study he is citing.
4. I invite Mr. Kelly to observe the number of tobacco and vape shops in the MetroWest area. Many of these would most likely begin selling THC products (because of their unique position and existing liabilities). However, had he ever actually been inside one, he might see that smoke and vape shops card everyone coming in. At the moment, all of these stores are 18+. If Q4 passes, they would likely increase to 21+. This may have the side effect of reducing tobacco and vape proliferation as well.
5. Mr. Kelly and the MRMC staff claim to be concerned with the opioid epidemic. In Colorado and Washington, opioid use is at an all-time low (CO formerly had the highest heroin overdose rate per capita in the country). The negative mental health effects on children have been shown to be associated with excessive use, which legalization and regulation would reduce (as has been seen in CO and WA).
I am deeply disappointed in Mr. Kelly. He seems to have taken the route of ignoring the actual facts in favor of overused and repeatedly refuted talking points. The benefits of legal, safe, and regulated THC and marijuana products has the potential to turn the tide against the opioid epidemic. Youth and teen use of opioids is rising by the day in Massachusetts.
The statements by the MHA and NAMI are not backed by science and are directly contradicted by statements issued by the American Medical Association (AMA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and the American Psychological Association (APA).