Tag Archives: ballot question

One InCity Times website reader writes…

.. ON the Medical Marijuana ballot question …:

By “Hungry Poet”

I can understand the concerns and hesitancy toward legalizing medical marijuana, particularly when it comes from older generations that went through years and years of Drug War propaganda.

I disagree with the idea of limiting any kind of farmers especially when it is to make way for greater Big Pharma control.

Who is more likely to produce an organic, less adulterated product – a farmer or a pharmacy? The pharmaceutical industry already has Merinol which is a pill form of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) but of course it has a lot of additives and is virtually ineffective.

Also, allowing local growers could help spark a local (tax paying?) industry that currently does not exist.

I think it is naive to think that having certified legal growers will suddenly flood the streets with marijuana, because let’s face it, there are a huge number of folks growing the plant in high abundance already.

Sure the underground market has always and will always exist – and that may be all the more reason to begin rolling back criminalization even further.

In my opinion, the extremely harsh drug laws needn’t apply to such a harmless substance. The War on Drugs failed and only created a terrible black market and filled our prisons (one in one hundred males behind bars in this country, more than all other nations in the world COMBINED).

The battle against marijuana seems to a generational battle that is slowly easing up as younger and younger folks, unaffected by the Reagan days and Bush1 created crack epidemic, simply do not see the herb as a danger.

In fact, many are educated on the uses and benefits of all types of natural herbs and plants as alternative and preventative medicines. Particularly as an awareness of Big Pharma and the FDAs corrupt abuses of power grows.

Most young folks have had enough of the synthetic drug pushing pharmaceutical world battling against easily available (and cheap in comparison) herbal alternatives.

As a side note, if other more liberal states like CA or RI are any indication – these dispensaries and growing operations will be so tightly watched and monitored that there is very minimal significant risk either one of these industries would conduct illegal activity. Again, let’s not think that an item like marijuana is really that hard to come by or grow right now with the current laws in place.

Vote NO on medical marijuana ballot question Nov. 6

By Steven R. Maher

On November 6, Massachusetts voters will decide whether marijuana can be prescribed for medicinal purposes. Because I believe the proposal contains a distribution flaw, I am going to vote no.

I downloaded from the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office the ballot question. It reads in part: “This proposed law would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients. 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.

Rosanne Bacon Meade to head committee against physician-assisted suicide


BOSTON – The Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide today announced that Rosanne Bacon Meade, former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and progressive activist, would chair its efforts to defeat the ballot initiative legalizing assisted suicide in the Commonwealth.   The initiative petition will appear on the November Massachusetts ballot (Question 2).   If approved, it would become law on January 1, 2013. 

 “Given my personal involvement in end-of-life care for both my mother and mother in-law, I am honored to lead the effort to defeat Question 2,” said Meade.  “No matter your philosophical views on end of life decision-making, this initiative petition is poorly written, confusing, and flawed.  With Massachusetts as the center of modern medical advances and treatment for those who are seriously ill, we can do better than pass a ballot question that would take us backward, not forward, in how we deal with end-of-life treatments.”  

 Meade said the Committee, which has already attracted the support of doctors, nurses, hospice workers, and religious leaders, will launch a vigorous campaign to defeat the measure.

“This ballot question allows a patient to obtain a lethal prescription without a mental health evaluation, without a consultation with a palliative care expert, and without family involvement,” said Meade.  “A person could act on their own at a terribly vulnerable moment, without the help and support they need.”

“An initiative petition is the worst possible way to decide end-of- life treatment options,” Meade said. “But, the proponents put this issue on the ballot instead of asking the legislature to bring healthcare experts together to thoughtfully advise state policy makers.  We will do whatever we can to help voters understand the ballot questions shortcomings and lack of effective safeguards.”

Many of the leading local and national health organizations, including the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Hospice & Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Physicians oppose physician assisted suicide.

“Patients don’t need to commit suicide to achieve peace and dignity,” said Dr. Alexandra Cist, a physician and clinical ethics consultant at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Harvard Medical School faculty member.  “Instead, they need better advance care planning and increased early entry into palliative care and hospice so a patient can benefit profoundly from the right treatment and support.”

 The Vote No on Question 2 Coalition already includes doctors, nurses, members of the disability community and religious leaders from all faiths.

 “Jewish leaders, ethicists, and rabbis have advocated on behalf of ever more effective palliative care because they recognize the ethical and practical dangers of permitting assisted suicide,” said Rabbi David Meyer of Marblehead. 

Meade said the coalition plans to continue expanding its membership and its fundraising base in the next several weeks.   

“I am struck by how many people have no idea this question is on the ballot,” she noted.  “We need to make people aware that Question 2 is seriously flawed and deserves a no vote on November 6th.”  

 In addition to serving as MTA president, Meade was also a member of the National Education Association’s executive committee.  Over a 38-year career, Meade taught middle school English.  She also ran the Teach Boston Program in the Boston Public Schools and taught in the Graduate School of Education at Cambridge College.   In addition to her role as educator, she has helped spearhead a number of progressive causes in Massachusetts over the past three decades.  

 To find out more, please visit www.stopassistedsuicide.org. On social media, also visit http://www.facebook.com/StopPhysicianAssistedSuicide on Facebook or @stopasstsuicide on Twitter.


November ballot question #2: One view point

By Steven R. Maher

“It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” – Hubert H. Humphrey.

Assisting the elderly, the sick, the needy and the handicapped to kill themselves is not what Hubert Humphrey had in mind as a moral government.

A question 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.

Deep flaws

This law has several deep flaws. In several instances, what it doesn’t say is more important than what it does say. 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.”

The act specifically bans euthanasia, the intentional medical ending of a life by a third party. But once we start down the slippery slope of allowing a person diagnosed as terminally ill to get permission to kill themselves, euthanasia is where we’re heading as a society. This act allows the patient to request suicide.

After we’re used to that, the next act will allow family members to get doctor’s permission to medically end their relative’s life. Then the final act will be to allow the medical establishment to make the decision on their own.

This wasn’t Hubert Humphrey’s vision of a moral government.

Is it yours?

Vote for Hilda Ramirez – Worcester School Committee!

Hilda Ramirez is working to earn a seat on the Worcester School Committee.

With her ivy league education, running the Worcester Youth Center and her business background, this savvy Latina may be just what Worcester kids need!

By Mara Sindoni

While articles in other papers debate the lack of diversity in spite of district representation in the Worcester City Council and resistance by current Worcester School Committee members to adding district representation to the Worcester School Committee – all eyes should focus on the exceptional candidacy for School Committee of Hilda Ramirez.

Hilda is just what the kids of Worcester need! Ramirez’s background includes a B.A. in Business from Lesley College and a Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard University. After 16 years in the financial industry in Boston, Ramirez became a home-owner in Worcester and, in 2003, founded Ritmos Academy, a Dance, Art and Music School with fully-licensed Preschool and Afterschool programs. Hilda is presently the Executive Director of the Worcester Youth Center.

Ramirez’s recommendations on ways to improve Worcester’s schools are based on her personal experience and professional expertise. While our cities flounder and our international educational rankings plunge when compared to 70 other countries – the USA kids are 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading – blame is unfairly set on the influx of foreigners.

How can it be, then, that a Spanish-speaking Hilda Ramirez could enter an English-only New York City 3rd grade and by 5th grade be advanced to 6th grade math and 8th grade English classes?

What was the magic here?

Hilda Ramirez knows from personal experience what Worcester’s two thirds Asian/Black/Hispanic student population needs to succeed academically.

Hilda’s first teacher in New York City was Latina. She went to Hilda’s home, shared experiences with Hilda’s mother, and made three specific recommendations on how to help Hilda succeed in America: (1) no Spanish TV, (2) complete homework daily and (3) go to the library.

Hilda’s Spanish-speaking mother did all three!

A disgruntled older brother chaperoned 10-year-old Hilda to the library every day. As a result, HILDA GOT HOOKED ON BOOKS – books in English! She and her brother won all the spelling bees. Hilda now emphasizes the need for teacher/parent communication and rapport. She proposes PARENT ACADEMIES. Studies have shown that consistent parental involvement is a major factor in determining a student’s academic success.

FULL-DAY PRESCHOOL WOULD BE IDEAL. Hilda had certain advantages that some Worcester school children lack. The daughter of garment-workers in NYC who wanted the best for their children, she had a happy, structured home-life. There was a rich culture left behind in the Dominican Republic and Hilda hopes newcomers to the US will retain the languages, arts and family and social values of their parents’ country of origin. But at the same time SCHOOL READINESS IS ESSENTIAL!

And that includes, not only intellectual and language readiness, but also patterns of behaviour, cooperativeness, structure, responsibility and expectations. Ramirez is hopeful that Worcester might zero-in on funding from President Obama’s ini-tiative for pre-schools.

In the meantime, she recommends that all early education teachers, including Worcester providers such as Edward Street Child Services, Guild of St. Agnes, Rainbow Child Development and the Head Start program be required to use the Core Curriculum used by Worcester Public Schools.

Her version of “no child left behind” is to move students forward when they are ready and be GROUPED BY ABILITY NOT GRADE, just as she was as a child in New York City. High school students should be pushed into Advanced Placement courses. As many as are ready should substitute college courses for high school classes, not just at Quinsigamond but also at Worcester State, Holy Cross and Clark.

In addition to college-readiness students need hands-on experience in the work-a-day world. We have many resources here. PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS with Worcester’s businesses, health industry, scientific, academic and cultural community should provide job experiences and internships. This too comes from Hilda Ramirez’s personal experience. At the age of 14, she was paid $8 an hour to work in the School Superin-tendent’s office doing chores such as filing, one evening a week during the school year and full-time summers.

Young Hilda knew how to work. Do Worcester’s school children know how to work?

On her first day as Executive Director of the Worcester Youth Center, Ramirez’s first action was to get the kids off the sofa and dump it! An old upright piano with keys that looked like someone had walked on or taken a hammer to them also got dumped. There is a new recording studio with a programmable keyboard. The place is spotless. The walls are decorated with recent student artwork. There is pride and a pleasant, cooperative atmosphere.

“When we were kids we were busy!” says Hilda. “We didn’t ‘hang.’ WE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS TO HANG OUT!”

Hilda hired a tutor at the Youth Center to help teens get their diplomas. The tutor is a lot more than a tutor. She is a teen-talking teenager herself, not an authority figure but a role-model with good grades, She is herself being helped at a young age with a JOB, as Hilda was helped by working during high school in the school superintendent’s office. Hilda Ramirez wants Worcester high school students to graduate on time, fully prepared for college or a job.

IN THIS 21ST CENTURY GLOBAL ECONOMY A YOUNG AND DIVERSE POPULATION IS AN ASSET, provided that those that get an education work and stay here. Unlike Worcester, many American cities are on a downturn due to an increasingly elderly population and a declining tax base. Worcester, on the other hand, has fine colleges full of young people.

We have, in the WPS, a majority minority school system: Asian/Black (some African)/Hispanic school population, plus Albanians, Middle Easterners, Russians, with languages and a diaspora that amount to a significant POTENTIAL IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS! We could and should have a downtown more like Harvard Square, with great restaurants on Main Street and things to do, books, films, music, clothing, crafts, art and more performances in our theatres of music and dance from other countries. Our location in the center of New England, with CSX and an underused airport is propitious. If Worcester educates its diverse public school population as it can and should, and retains these and our college graduates, Worcester will prosper.

We need someone on the Worcester School Committee who knows how to make that happen.

Hilda Ramirez is that person!

InCity Times asks you to Vote NO on Question 3!

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

“Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

They’re at it again! The Committee for Small Government has qualified to place another anti-tax question on the ballot Tuesday – this one to slash the state sales tax from 6.25% to 3%. These are the same people who brought us Question 1 in 2008, the initiative which the voters sensibly and soundly defeated – the repeal of the state income tax.

If passed, the Sales Tax Initiative would slice revenues by $2.5 billion a year on top of the billions in cuts already made during this recession.

How much is $2.5 billion?

It equals one-half of all state spending on our 1,900 public schools. Continue reading InCity Times asks you to Vote NO on Question 3!