By Steven R. Maher

There are three ballot questions on the November 6, 2012 election. The first one was passed by the legislature once it made it on the ballot. But voters might want to send the political establishment a message by approving this by an overwhelming majority. We urge a no vote on the other two questions.

Question #1

“This proposed law would prohibit any motor vehicle manufacturer, starting with model year 2015, from selling or leasing, either directly or through a dealer, a new motor vehicle without allowing the owner to have access to the same diagnostic and repair information made available to the manufacturer’s dealers and in-state authorized repair facilities,” says the Secretary of State’s web site.

“The manufacturer would have to allow the owner, or the owner’s designated in-state independent repair facility (one not affiliated with a manufacturer or its authorized dealers), to obtain diagnostic and repair information electronically, on an hourly, daily, monthly, or yearly subscription basis, for no more than fair market value and on terms that do not unfairly favor dealers and authorized repair facilities.

“The manufacturer would have to provide access to the information through a non-proprietary vehicle interface, using a standard applied in federal emissions-control regulations. Such information would have to include the same content, and be in the same form and accessible in the same manner, as is provided to the manufacturer’s dealers and authorized repair facilities.”

“For vehicles manufactured from 2002 through model year 2014, the proposed law would require a manufacturer of motor vehicles sold in Massachusetts to make available for purchase, by vehicle owners and in-state independent repair facilities, the same diagnostic and repair information that the manufacturer makes available through an electronic system to its dealers and in-state authorized repair facilities. Manufacturers would have to make such information available in the same form and manner, and to the same extent, as they do for dealers and authorized repair facilities,” continued the web site. “The information would be available for purchase on an hourly, daily, monthly, or yearly subscription basis, for no more than fair market value and on terms that do not unfairly favor dealers and authorized repair facilities.

This sounds like a no brainer to me. Instead of taking your out of warranty car to a dealer, who are notorious for charging high prices, when that “Engine Trouble” light goes on, you’ll be able to take it to your trusted repairman, who’s less likely to screw a dependeable customer.

That’s probably why both branches of the Massachusetts legislature voted down this law.

Question #2

The second querstion on the November 2012 ballot would legalize suicide in Massachusetts, in which a physician would prescribe a drug whose sole purpose is to kill someone. It is opposed by the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Under the act, two witnesses will say the patient is capable, acting voluntarily, and not being coerced. Two doctors will certify that the person has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and is expected to die within six months. After a 15 day waiting period, the patient will communicate a second time their desire to commit suicide. Then the doctor will be allowed to prescribe drugs to the patient, who must ingest this poison voluntarily without assistance. “The death certificate would list the underlying terminal illness as the cause of death,” says the act.

This law has several deep flaws. Some highlights:

· Family members need not be consulted. Two strangers will suffice under this act to witness the patient’s request to commit suicide. If you’re the parents, spouse, sibling, or children of the patient, they can kill themselves without you being informed, and because the death certificate will list the underlying terminal disease as the cause of death, you’ll never know your loved one killed themselves – or be given a chance to stop it.

· The law does not mention medical proxies. The person you have deemed – presumably when you were of sound mind – most suitable to make your medical decisions when you are emotionally or physically incapacitated, need not be consulted under the act.

· Beneficiaries of the suicidal person’s estate are specifically allowed to be one of the two witnesses under the act. There will undoubtedly be cases of “assisted murder” where an estate beneficiary will pressure a medically weakened patient to “end their pain and suffering” – and then help themselves to the decedent’s assets. Undoubtedly, there will be cases where a witness will be motivated by greed, not love for the person whose suicide they are authorizing.

· What if the medical diagnosis is incorrect? Well, that will just be too bad for the dead person and their loved ones. The law immunizes those involved in helping a person kill themselves “for actions that comply with the law, including actions taken in good faith that substantially comply.”

This question should definitely be voted down.

Question #3

“This proposed law would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients,” says the Massachusetts Secretary of State web site. “To qualify, a patient must have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV-positive status or AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis. The patient would also have to obtain a written certification, from a physician with whom the patient has a bona fide physician-patient relationship, that the patient has a specific debilitating medical condition and would likely obtain a net benefit from medical use of marijuana. “

As someone who suffers from Parkinson disease (see the InCity Times December 26, 2011), I believe patients who would obtain a “net benefit” should be allowed, with a doctor’s approval, to use medical marijuana. It is the following section that bothers me: “The proposed law would allow for non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers to grow, process and provide marijuana to patients or their caregivers.”

Under this scenario, the treatment centers that grow the marijuana would “provide” the product to the patient. There have been problems in other states using this approach. Inevitably, if Massachusetts adopts this question, there will be a seepage in the supply chain and legally produced marijuana will end up being sold by illegal drug dealers. This looks like a process that would be ripe for organized crime penetration, whether it is the traditional Mafia or one of its third world imitators.

The link needs to broken between the legal medical marijuana producer and the patient. If marijuana is going to be prescribed as a medication, it should be processed through a pharmacy like any other medication. Medical treatment centers should market their marijuana to retailers, not medically stricken patients. The doctor can write a prescription, the patient can take it to the local CVS, Walgreen’s or other pharmacy, and get it filled. A pharmacist should process prescriptions, not farmers or treatment centers. We urge a no vote on question three.

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