|November 1, 2012
SENATOR HART OPPOSES BALLOT QUESTIONS TWO AND THREE
Boston – Senator Jack Hart (D-Boston) today announced he is opposing Massachusetts ballot Questions 2 and 3. If passed ballot Question 2, would legalize physician-assisted suicide in the Commonwealth on January 1, 2013. While Question 3 would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties relative to the medical use of marijuana.
“As a legislator, I have a number of concerns about Question 2 which would allow the dispensing of a dangerous life ending narcotic with little or no medical oversight nor would require the consultation with a patient’s family or require any type of mental health screening or counseling.”
Senator Hart is concerned with the following aspects of Question 2:
- Patients with a prognosis of six months or fewer to live could choose to end their lives, even though most doctors admit they cannot accurately predict life expectancy.
- Patients could choose to end their lives without ever talking to a spouse or family member.
- Patients could obtain a lethal prescription without talking to hospice or palliative care professionals to manage their symptoms and minimize pain.
- A physician would not be required to be present when a patient takes the pill, leaving him or her vulnerable to complications and injury not resulting in death.
- The lethal prescription would be dispensed at a local pharmacy and public health officials would have no system for tracking the lethal dose.
Hart cited the recent statement by the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians which criticized using the ballot question for such a nuanced and complex area of medicine as a “disservice to the citizens to the citizens of the Commonwealth” in his opposition to Question 2.
With regard to Question 3, Hart stated that “he has far too often seen the devastating toll substance abuse has taken on individuals and their families, Marijuana is a gateway drug which many times leads young people to opiate addiction. Opiate addiction has reached epidemic proportions in our community and as a legislator I owe a duty to take all steps necessary to further stem the tide of drug abuse and addiction in our community.”
Questions 3 would allow for the creation of up to 35 non profit marijuana dispensaries in the first year with the possibility of further dispensaries in the future, while providing others the right to grow their own medicinal marijuana with little or no supervision from public health officials as to the size and strength of their medicinal marijuana. Hart further stated, “that I have grave concerns about the introduction of medicinal marijuana and we only need to look to the failures of California in legalizing medicinal marijuana and regulating an industry which has over 1000 storefronts in Los Angeles alone, dispensing marijuana to many with dubious medical conditions and bringing with it a number of quality of life issues to the community.”
Hart in his opposition is troubled by the statistics provided by the The Massachusetts Prevention Alliance which has stated that states which have allowed the cultivation and sale of marijuana for “medicinal purposes” have experienced;
- Increased use of marijuana by youth age 12-25 – directly linked to increased availability
- Decreased “perceived harm” of marijuana use, leading to increased use 12-18 year olds
- Increased driving while impaired under the influence of narcotics arrests.
- Increased crime – especially in states with sanctioned distribution centers, or “dispensaries”
For these reasons, Senator Hart asks that you join him along with a growing list of legislators as well as medical organizations including the Massachusetts Medical Society in defeating Questions 2 and 3.