NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

October 15, 2012

Question 3: Sham vs. lifesaver

Patient comfort, legality play into medical marijuana ballot vote

(Continued)

But that hasn’t stopped opponents from using that as a reason to argue against the measure.

They say the ballot question is poorly thought-out, will lead to wider use of marijuana for non-medical reasons and is against federal law, among other problems.

“It’s a sham and a bad law,” said Dr. Jay Broadhurst, a family physician from Worcester whose name appears as an opponent to the measure in the Massachusetts voter guide mailed to millions of registered voters across the state. “We’ve been trying to decrease smoking of another plant material (tobacco) for years, and now we suddenly say this is OK?”

He said the law as written puts physicians in the “middle of a mess” created when state law goes up against federal law. He said patients will be asking their doctors to prescribe something deemed illegal by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

“Nothing in the law protects you (doctors) from federal law,” he said. “You violate your DEA certification if you prescribe medicinal marijuana. Federal law is clear — you can’t do it.”

He said doctors like him could lose their certification if they prescribe an illegal drug, which would drive them out of business.

Further, he said, in some states the law has been abused.

“This brings out the worst in doctors and patients,” he said, noting that patients addicted to marijuana or other narcotics will try to circumvent the regulations to obtain medicinal marijuana while doctors may try to prescribe it when they shouldn’t.

But Jennifer Manley, a spokeswoman for Compassion for Patients, the Massachusetts organization pushing for passage of the law, said that may have happened in other states, but won’t happen here.

“We looked at 17 other states and we know we’ll have the safest, most secure law in the country,” she said. “We even created a new felony — defrauding the medical system — punishable by five years in jail. No one will be foolish enough to defraud the system and get caught.”

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