While YesOn4 campaign’s TV ads (fact checked as FALSE by WCVB TV) feature “doctors” to confuse voters that this law has something to do with medical marijuana, our state’s hospital and healthcare professionals urge a “No” vote on Question 4 in Massachusetts. In the most recent correspondence to their member hospitals and healthcare professionals, the MHHA points to the latest TV ad (fact checked as TRUE by WCVB). The ad rightly illustrates that this law is about commercial, retail, recreational marijuana with no limits on potency or the number of “establishments” that could grow, sell, process, and manufacture bud, hash, and marijuana infused edibles in our towns and communities “by right”. “By Right” means that local zoning controls will be superceded leaving towns without even the option of reviewing these establishments under Special Permit or other usual zoning measures.
“NEW AD LAYS OUT COMPELLING ARGUMENT AGAINST COMMERCIAL MARIJUANA”
As a follow-up to statement below published that their website, President of Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association shares the new TV ad that the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts has just released.
The ad, which will begin to air this week, makes a very strong case against the insertion of commercial marijuana into our communities.
“I encourage you to Vote NO on Question 4 on November 8” says Lynn Nicholas, FACHE, President & CEO, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association
VOTE NO ON QUESTION 4
While the nation and the world are focused on the upcoming presidential election on November 8, Massachusetts voters going to the polls will also be asked to determine four statewide ballot questions. Of particular importance to all voters and the healthcare community is Question 4, which poses a critical threat to the public’s health through the legalization of the commercial marijuana industry in our state.
The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) represents nearly all the hospitals in Massachusetts and the 190,000-plus committed professionals who work in them. Our membership includes hospitals, healthcare systems, group physician practices, home health groups, senior living interests, and many other entities all united by their commitment to provide high-quality care and to safeguard the health of the commonwealth’s citizens.
As president & CEO of MHA, I’m honored to represent a healthcare community that is internationally respected and emulated. After studying this issue and consulting with a variety of experts and clinical leaders committed to improving public health, we recognize that the legalization of commercial marijuana poses a direct threat to the public health and safety of our patients and communities and raises significant concerns for healthcare organizations. In addition, the news coming out of the few states that that have legalized the commercial sale of marijuana – such as Colorado and Washington State – is troubling. The stakes are too high for Massachusetts and the reasons for opposition are clear.
Two of MHA’s standing committees – comprised of leaders in clinical and public policy matters – both fully vetted the pros and cons of marijuana legalization. Both groups urged the MHA Board of Trustees to oppose Question 4, which the board did, unanimously, earlier this year. MHA is also part of a large coalition of healthcare, business, and community leaders – joined by a bipartisan group of state and local leaders – all aligned with the Campaign for a Safe & Healthy Massachusetts to oppose Question 4. Here’s why MHA and its members are against Question 4.
Children and edibles. The commercial marijuana industry model relies heavily on the sale of “edibles” – THC-laced products that look like, and are packaged as, lollipops, gummy bears, and other sweets targeted at the youth market. My peers in Colorado, where marijuana is legal, say edibles account for nearly 50% of all marijuana products sold in that state and emergency rooms are routinely treating children accidently ingesting these irresponsible products, whose unregulated THC levels can reach an astounding 95%.
Impaired driving. Each day we see drivers crossing marked lines as they read texts or surf the web. Add impaired drivers using legal marijuana to that mix and you have a recipe for disaster. The number of traffic deaths due to marijuana-impaired drivers doubled the year after Washington State legalized marijuana, and Colorado has also seen a spike in impaired driving deaths. There’s no breathalyzer test for marijuana, making it difficult to deter or prosecute these impaired drivers.
Home grown allowances. Question 4 would allow anyone over 21 to grow marijuana in their homes even over the objections of neighbors. The tax revenue-enhancing arguments of pro marijuana supporters is undercut by the fact that allowing a homegrown marijuana industry will create a new black market for the product as it has already done in Colorado.
Increased teen use. Since becoming the first state to legalize, Colorado has also become the number one state in the nation for teen marijuana use, making an increase in Massachusetts a similar certainty.
Impact on our communities. Question 4 limits the ability of communities to set limits on the number of marijuana producers and sellers that could open in Massachusetts. In Colorado, there are already more marijuana shops in operation than the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks combined.
Adverse mental health impacts. Creating a legal commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts would increase use among children and harm the cognitive development of young people. The National Alliance of Mental Illness Massachusetts (NAMI) has delivered a clear warning about the harmful effects of legalization, saying it will “… pose a great threat to the health and wellbeing of those with mental illness as well as young people predisposed to mental illness.”
As it stands now, anyone caught in Massachusetts engaging in recreational usage – possessing less than an ounce – faces no more than a civil fine of $100. And medical marijuana is also now dispensed by prescription. Question 4 is not a small step forward; it is a giant leap too far – especially for the well-being of our children. The legalization of the commercial marijuana industry will foster a dangerous climate that will yield poor public health consequences and challenges to the resources of our healthcare system. Our state’s acceptance of a misguided ballot question will weaken Massachusetts collectively – not strengthen us.
MHA and its member hospitals and healthcare systems urge you to give Question 4 careful thought on election day and urge you to Vote NO on Question 4.
Lynn Nicholas, FACHE
President & CEO, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association