YES ON #3: This time, for the first time I can remember, all the initiative questions deserve a yes vote, including this one. A “yes” vote on this question would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties related to the medical use of marijuana, allowing patients meeting certain conditions to obtain marijuana produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers or, in specific hardship cases, to grow marijuana for their own use.
There is, by now, plenty of evidence that marijuana really has been proven effective for combating nausea and seizures, and for assisting in pain relief for patients suffering from cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and other debilitating conditions. Medical marijuana has already been legalized in sixteen states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. And the District of Columbia. Alaska and Arizona? Seriously? I mean, California, Oregon, and Vermont, sure. But Alaska and Arizona? You’ve got to be kidding me.
In any case, legalizing medical marijuana should be a useful first step in decriminalizing marijuana once and for all. Marijuana, after all, is no more dangerous or addictive than alcohol. Which is not an endorsement of it. I’m just saying.
Two years ago, the citizens of the Commonwealth took the sensible step of making simple marijuana possession a civil, as opposed to criminal, offense. As many of you know, the federal government still continues to view marijuana possession or use as a serious crime, and federal law generally preempts state law. And yet, the federal government has looked the other way while states like California and Colorado have set up burgeoning marijuana industries, and for a simple reason: because states like California and Colorado get to tax marijuana, which brings in a nice little revenue bump for the state. In addition, they get to license growers and regulate the industry.
For states like California and Colorado there are other benefits as well. Fewer people populating their jails for marijuana-related offenses. Fewer resources wasted on the misguided war on drugs. Colorado is trying to legalize marijuana entirely through a state constitutional amendment called Amendment 64. California and Washington state also have proposals on their ballot. We’re not there yet, but medical marijuana would be a step in the right direction. Vote “yes” on Question #3.