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Massachusetts Hospital Association opposes measure for legalization of marijuana

The board of trustees of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, which represents Massachusetts General Hospital and 78 other hospitals, unanimously voted last week to oppose the ballot that would legalize marijuana in Massachusetts. PHOTO BY ELLEN CLOUSE/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
The board of trustees of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, which represents Massachusetts General Hospital and 78 other hospitals, unanimously voted last week to oppose the ballot that would legalize marijuana in Massachusetts. PHOTO BY ELLEN CLOUSE/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

After a unanimous vote Thursday, the Massachusetts Hospital Association Board of Trustees announced that it would join an ongoing list of Massachusetts organizations that oppose the regulation and taxation of marijuana in the commonwealth, according to a Thursday press release.

The release also stated that the MHA is opposing the bill due to a possible increase in public health risks and the inevitable increased accessibility of marijuana to the youth in Massachusetts.

MHA President and CEO Lynn Nicholas said in the release that the legalization of marijuana has proven controversial for health care professionals.

“Massachusetts hospitals have always been at the forefront of promoting public health, and the question of whether our commonwealth should legalize recreational marijuana use poses a number of significant healthcare-related problems,” Nicholas said in the release.

Nicholas also said that the MHA is unwavering in its opposition to legalization of the drug.

“Clinicians and healthcare leaders from around the state have a clear message — this ballot question is the wrong prescription for Massachusetts,” Nicholas said in the release. “Based on the clear evidence and concern for our patients and our communities, the hospital answer to whether recreational marijuana use should be legalized in Massachusetts is a resounding ‘no.’”

The ballot measure, titled “The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act,” would allow commercialization and government regulation of recreational marijuana.

“The purpose of this Act is to control the production and distribution of marijuana under a system that licenses, regulates and taxes the businesses involved in a manner similar to alcohol and to make marijuana legal,” the measure states. “Its intent is to remove the production and distribution of marijuana from the illicit market and to prevent the sale of marijuana to persons under 21 years of age by providing for a regulated and taxed distribution system.”

The act also includes the development of a cannabis advisory board “to study and make recommendations on the regulation of marijuana and marijuana products,” the measure stated. The board will not consist of government employees from the commonwealth.

Jim Borghesani, a spokesperson for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, expressed strong opposition to the hospital’s decision.

“We don’t think it will happen at all,” Borghesani said. “We are confident Massachusetts voters will see past the stale, discredited arguments from the 1930s while they are considering a new approach for a substance”

According to an email from Gabrielle Farrell, a spokesperson for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Walsh is opposed to the legalization of marijuana.

Residents of Boston had mixed opinions on the regulation of marijuana in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a whole.

Lynne Begier, 41, of Back Bay, said Boston residents are likely to favor legalization.

“It’s understandable why the hospital wants to vote against the legalization of marijuana, but I don’t think that it’s the be-all-end-all,” she said. “I know it’s a topic of discussion here in Boston, and I think the residents are liberal enough to vote yes.”

Rebecca Nelson, 32, of Back Bay, said she supports the MHA’s decision.

“I don’t think [legalization] is a good idea, and I think the hospital has the right reasoning behind it,” she said. “I don’t want my kids to grow up surrounded by pot. I know that it’s inevitable that they’ll be exposed to it, but I don’t want it to be readily available any more than it is. Maybe decriminalized, but not available for recreational use.”

Vincent Lavigne, 22, of the South End, said he was surprised hospitals are not adapting to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“Everyone seems to smoke pot nowadays, especially here in Boston,” he said. “I’m actually surprised that the hospital denied it because of its medicinal uses. I feel like it would actually be beneficial to them, maybe make them some money.”

Kyler Sumter contributed to the reporting of this article.

3 Comments

  1. When a loved one is in pain, wasting away unable to eat, and needs this marvelous herb in order to increase their appetite, reduce the overwhelming pain, and live as as healthy and happily as they can with the time they have left, let’s have the compassion to allow them to have it.

    Stop treating Medical Marijuana Patients like second rate citizens and common criminals by forcing them to the dangerous black market for their medicine.

    Risking incarceration to obtain the medicine you need is no way to be forced to live.

    Support Medical Marijuana Now!

    “[A] federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane.” — Dr. Jerome Kassirer, “Federal Foolishness and Marijuana,” editorial, New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 1997

    “[The AAFP accepts the use of medical marijuana] under medical supervision and control for specific medical indications.” — American Academy of Family Physicians, 1989, reaffirmed in 2001

    “[We] recommend … allow[ing] [marijuana] prescription where medically appropriate.” — National Association for Public Health Policy, November 15, 1998

    “Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision.” — American Nurses Association, resolution, 2003

    “The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses’ Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine.” — National Nurses Society on Addictions, May 1, 1995

    “[M]arijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions … [G]reater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use.” — American Public Health Association, Resolution #9513, “Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” 1995

    “When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients … We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug.” — American Academy of HIV Medicine, letter to New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, November 11, 2003

  2. Nobody can deny the Medical effectiveness of Medical Marijuana.

    Below is a small sampling of the Professional Medical Organizations Worldwide that attest to Medical Marijuana’s effectiveness and Support Legal Access to and Use of Medical Marijuana.

    Along with over twenty U.S states that have already legalized medical marijuana.

    Are they ALL wrong?

    International and National Organizations

    AIDS Action Council
    AIDS Treatment News
    American Academy of Family Physicians
    American Medical Student Association
    American Nurses Association
    American Preventive Medical Association
    American Public Health Association
    American Society of Addiction Medicine
    Arthritis Research Campaign (United Kingdom)
    Australian Medical Association (New South Wales) Limited
    Australian National Task Force on Cannabis
    Belgian Ministry of Health
    British House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology
    British House of Lords Select Committee On Science and Technology (Second Report)
    British Medical Association
    Canadian AIDS Society
    Canadian Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs
    Dr. Dean Edell (surgeon and nationally syndicated radio host)
    French Ministry of Health
    Health Canada
    Kaiser Permanente
    Lymphoma Foundation of America
    The Montel Williams MS Foundation
    Multiple Sclerosis Society (Canada)
    The Multiple Sclerosis Society (United Kingdom)
    National Academy of Sciences Institute Of Medicine (IOM)
    National Association for Public Health Policy
    National Nurses Society on Addictions
    Netherlands Ministry of Health
    New England Journal of Medicine
    New South Wales (Australia) Parliamentary Working Party on the Use of Cannabis for Medical Purposes
    Dr. Andrew Weil (nationally recognized professor of internal medicine and founder of the National Integrative Medicine Council)

    State and Local Organizations

    Alaska Nurses Association
    Being Alive: People With HIV/AIDS Action Committee (San Diego, CA)
    California Academy of Family Physicians
    California Nurses Association
    California Pharmacists Association
    Colorado Nurses Association
    Connecticut Nurses Association
    Florida Governor’s Red Ribbon Panel on AIDS
    Florida Medical Association
    Hawaii Nurses Association
    Illinois Nurses Association
    Life Extension Foundation
    Medical Society of the State of New York
    Mississippi Nurses Association
    New Jersey State Nurses Association
    New Mexico Medical Society
    New Mexico Nurses Association
    New York County Medical Society
    New York State Nurses Association
    North Carolina Nurses Association
    Rhode Island Medical Society
    Rhode Island State Nurses Association
    San Francisco Mayor’s Summit on AIDS and HIV
    San Francisco Medical Society
    Vermont Medical Marijuana Study Committee
    Virginia Nurses Association
    Whitman-Walker Clinic (Washington, DC)
    Wisconsin Nurses Association

    Additional AIDS Organizations

    The following organizations are signatories to a February 17, 1999 letter to the US Department of Health petitioning the federal government to “make marijuana legally available … to people living with AIDS.”

    AIDS Action Council
    AIDS Foundation of Chicago
    AIDS National Interfaith Network (Washington, DC)
    AIDS Project Arizona
    AIDS Project Los Angeles
    Being Alive: People with HIV/AIDS Action Committee (San Diego, CA)
    Boulder County AIDS Project (Boulder, CO)
    Colorado AIDS Project
    Center for AIDS Services (Oakland, CA)
    Health Force: Women and Men Against AIDS (New York, NY)
    Latino Commission on AIDS
    Mobilization Against AIDS (San Francisco, CA)
    Mothers Voices to End AIDS (New York, NY)
    National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Association
    National Native American AIDS Prevention Center
    Northwest AIDS Foundation
    People of Color Against AIDS Network (Seattle, WA)
    San Francisco AIDS Foundation
    Whitman-Walker Clinic (Washington, DC)

    Other Health Organizations

    The following organizations are signatories to a June 2001 letter to the US Department of Health petitioning the federal government to “allow people suffering from serious illnesses … to apply to the federal government for special permission to use marijuana to treat their symptoms.”

    Addiction Treatment Alternatives
    AIDS Treatment Initiatives (Atlanta, GA)
    American Public Health Association
    American Preventive Medical Association
    Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights (San Francisco, CA)
    California Legislative Council for Older Americans
    California Nurses Association
    California Pharmacists Association
    Embrace Life (Santa Cruz, CA)
    Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
    Hawaii Nurses Association
    Hepatitis C Action and Advisory Coalition
    Life Extension Foundation
    Maine AIDS Alliance
    Minnesota Nurses Association
    Mississippi Nurses Association
    National Association of People with AIDS
    National Association for Public Health Policy
    National Women’s Health Network
    Nebraska AIDS Project
    New Mexico Nurses Association
    New York City AIDS Housing Network
    New York State Nurses Association Ohio Patient Network Okaloosa AIDS Support and Information Services (Fort Walton, FL)
    Physicians for Social Responsibility – Oregon
    San Francisco AIDS Foundation
    Virginia Nurses Association
    Wisconsin Nurses Association

    Health Organizations Supporting Medical Marijuana Research

    International and National Organizations

    American Cancer Society
    American Medical Association
    British Medical Journal
    California Medical Association
    California Society on Addiction Medicine
    Congress of Nursing Practice
    Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
    Jamaican National Commission on Ganja
    National Institutes of Health (NIH) Workshop on the Medical Utility of Marijuana
    Texas Medical Association
    Vermont Medical Society
    Wisconsin State Medical Society

  3. I am 100% positive that the hospital never denied the effects of medical marijuana. They are just worried about the affect it will have on the under-aged society when it becomes more accessible. And like all things on this world, man-made or no, medical marijuana does have some side effects. The fact that there are people who are studying marijuana as a therapeutic and medicinal means goes to show how far we have progressed to legalize it. Everyone just expects it to be legalized with no problems. It’s not like all the world is waiting on some miracle cure to everything. There are going to be side effects to the product as well as the decision and it’s going to take some time. If some people think that those side effects aren’t worth it, then that is totally okay.