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.