While polls show the majority of voters support the controversial questions on the Nov. 6 state ballot, opponents of medical marijuana and medically assisted suicide still argue that the bills would have adverse effects.
An August poll from Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,115 likely voters in Massachusetts and found that 58 percent would support the elimination of state and civil penalties for medical marijuana, Question 3 on the ballot.
If passed, it would allow patients with certain medical conditions to receive marijuana from state-regulated distribution centers, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of State website.
The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area in Colorado, part of the national Office of National Drug Control Policy, published a three-week study showing that medical marijuana, which was legalized in Colorado in 2010, was diverted to 23 other states.
Abigail Moncrieff, a professor at the Boston University School of Law who specializes in healthcare law, said if the bill passes, it will be harder to enforce the law.
“We just have to expect that our homegrown marijuana will make it across state lines,” Moncrieff said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration would have to help enforce the law in Massachusetts, she said, but it would not hurt the state.
Thomas Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain HIDTA, said the report, which shows more than 60 incidents where marijuana was used illegally, would discourage states considering a similar law.
“There is no way that you can control this if there is a demand for the product,” Gorman said.
The Massachusetts Medical Society opposes the law for medical reasons, said MMS spokesperson Richard Gulla.
“Marijuana smoke contains more poisons than tobacco smoke, as well as carbon monoxide and tar,” Gulla said in an email. “Its use has also been associated with long-term impairments of mental capacity.”
The MMS wants “scientific studies [to] demonstrate its safety and efficacy” before it would support such a law, he said.
Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed also support Question 2 on the ballot, the legalization of assisted suicide, according to the same PPP poll.
“It would allow terminally ill patients to request from their doctor medicine to end their life,” said Stephen Crawford, spokesman for Dignity 2012, a coalition supporting the bill.
Doctors could prescribe medication to end the life of patients diagnosed with six months to live. Patients must be mentally able and must have “made an informed decision,” according to the bill on the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website.
Doctors can choose not to prescribe the medication if it is against religious or ethical beliefs, but Crawford said many doctors support the bill and people in Massachusetts think it is a “personal choice for those who are in their final days.”
Washington and Oregon, the only states with a death with dignity law, passed the law through the initiative petition process, he said.
But John Kelly, director of Second Thoughts, said although the bill “superficially” sounds good because it considers healthcare costs, choice and suffering, the bill is actually dangerous.
“We can just set up all these situations where bad things can happen,” Kelly said.
Kelly said people are sometimes misdiagnosed or outlive their diagnosis by years.
He said cuts and rising costs in healthcare means that doctors who perform the final certification of the patient cannot be objective.
“People already can refuse any treatment,” Kelly said, adding that they can live comfortably with pain relievers.
An annual report by the Oregon Public Health Division found that one out of 71 patients who have taken the medication was referred for psychiatric evaluation, Kelly said.
He said 40 percent said they were a burden on their family, which pressures the patient.
“Whatever benefits [the bill] is going to have are really going to be outweighed by the dangers,” Kelly said.
Question 1 on the ballot is the Right to Repair law, which has already been passed and is the first of its kind, said Art Kinsman, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Right to Repair coalition.
The law lets owners repair their vehicles themselves, by their dealer or in independent car shops, he said.
“It requires auto manufacturers and car rooms to sell all repair and diagnostics information to either the car owner or repair shop,” Kinsman said.
He said vehicle owners often save money since independent car shops are usually cheaper.
The Legislature received the bill in January and passed it in July, but the organization gathered the additional 11,000 certified signatures in June to put the question on the ballot just in case it did not pass, Kinsman said.
If passed on the ballot, the state legislature will have to review the bill because it differs from the current law, he said.