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Massachusetts Hospital Association votes to oppose marijuana ballot measure

Two different strains of marijuana buds sold at the Medicine Man marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colo., in January. Medicine Man dispenses recreational and medical marijuana.Bob Pearson for The Boston Globe

The Massachusetts Hospital Association has joined a growing roster of opponents to a proposed ballot measure that would legalize marijuana in Massachusetts.

The group’s board of trustees voted unanimously last week to oppose the measure, citing public health and safety concerns, including greater youth access to the drug.

“Clinicians and health care leaders from around the state have a clear message — this ballot measure is the wrong prescription for Massachusetts,” said Lynn Nicholas, chief executive of the hospital association, in a written statement.

Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston recently published a joint opinion article in The Boston Globe reiterating their opposition to the ballot question, which would legalize recreational use of marijuana for those 21 and over.


The politicians wrote that where marijuana is legal, young people are more likely to use it. Advocates dispute that.

“The governor and the attorney general and the Boston mayor wrote an opinion piece that’s predicated on junk science,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “It’s a shame that any board would follow up with a vote . . . based on junk science.”

The proposed ballot measure would create a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee a system of marijuana stores, grow facilities, and manufacturers of edible products like brownies. It would also impose a 3.75 percent excise tax on retail marijuana sales, on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

The measure would allow people to home-grow up to 12 marijuana plants per household. But a group of state senators who took a trip to Colorado, where the drug is already legal, have proposed a temporary moratorium on home growing, should the measure pass, or even an outright ban.

The senators have also called for health risk warnings on marijuana advertising and product labels.


The hospital association represents 78 hospitals across the state, according to a spokeswoman for the organization, including Brigham and Women’s, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Massachusetts General hospitals. Its board of trustees took the vote Thursday.

David Scharfenberg
can be reached at david.scharfenberg
Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe