Question: Should Massachusetts legalize marijuana?
Jim Pillsbury is a Framingham town meeting member.
The arguments for continuing marijuana prohibition have long been dismissed as “Reefer Madness.” No reasonable person here in Metrowest believes using marijuana recreationally leads to heroin use, or causes young men to jump off bridges or commit mass murder. It was all a pack of lies from the start, all because hemp was competing with the petrochemical industry. The government fabricated the propaganda about marijuana just to stop the hemp industry.
Baby boomer voters who went to college or war, raised families, achieved personal and career success, lived through the early introduction of marijuana, and some even became presidents of this great country. We survived, flourished, did our jobs, made a difference, and still do today, with pot in our lives.
Since 2000 here in Framingham, when the first marijuana decriminalization public policy questions were placed on the ballot, the response by voters has been overwhelmingly supportive. Not because everyone here uses pot, but because reasonable people, young and old, college educated or not, believe it’s time to legalize it and control it like any other industry. Around the state, all marijuana legalization questions on the ballot in this election cycle passed overwhelmingly; in Lexington the vote in favor was 75 percent. The voting public now is supportive of medical and recreational use. The fact is that thousands of Metrowesters have had some positive experience with pot and have lived to vote about it.
It makes no sense putting into motion the weight of the legal system to enforce marijuana prohibition. It is not fiscally responsible to spend tax dollars on incarceration for violating marijuana laws, or to forgo the tax revenue legal marijuana would bring to this state. And what is gained by ruining a young person’s chances in life with a criminal record? Since voters decriminalized marijuana back in 2012 thousands of arrests every year no longer happen and the world still turns.
According to government surveys, some 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 14 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use. I know one of them personally here in Framingham.
Heidi Heilman is a resident of Wayland and the president of the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance.
Say hello to the next Big Tobacco: Big Marijuana. That’s what we’re about to get if we continue to legalize marijuana here in the United States despite warnings from groups like the American Medical Association. The push to legalize marijuana is all about greed — the money to be made by big marijuana businesses and want-to-be tycoons.
Marijuana legalization will usher in a massive, profit-hungry industry, promoting addiction by commercializing and aggressively marketing the drug to our most vulnerable. The Big Marijuana playbook takes its cue from Big Tobacco: hire doctors to promote cigarettes as medicine, downplay the harm it would inflict, infiltrate political leadership, and target kids. Developing brains are primed for addiction, so use through the teen years guarantees a percentage of lifelong customers.
The marijuana used now is 300 to 800 percent more potent than it was in the 1960s and ‘70s, resulting in addiction for one in every six teens who try it and between a quarter to a half of all daily users. Today’s pot products include marijuana-infused and sprayed foods such as the single gummy bear in Colorado that can get four people high. High-potency concentrates such as butane hash oil vaporization, or “dabbing,” are responsible for a growing number of hospital visits, psychotic episodes, and overdoses.
The economics of alcohol and tobacco show that for every one dollar gained in taxes, 10 dollars are lost in social costs. This should fuel concern for every taxpayer, as it suggests cleanup costs for the commercialization of marijuana will significantly outweigh any gains in tax revenue.
There is a growing body of peer-reviewed research that indicates marijuana use contributes to mental illness, depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, permanent loss of IQ and memory, heightened risk of heart attack or stroke, use of other drugs, and in men, testicular cancer. Big Marijuana is doing all it can to cast doubt on these scientific facts in the same way Big Tobacco kept the public in the dark for half a century by clouding evidence that smoking causes lung cancer. Industry tactics were strategic and effective.
Let’s not repeat history and allow another addictions-marketing industry to lure the nation into mass public use to marijuana, an addictive, psychotropic drug.As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at email@example.com.