Pot Law Takes a Hit

21Sep12

marijuana jointWhen the Board of Selectmen last week moved to use zoning to nip in the bud any chance of a medical marijuana dispensary opening in Wakefield Massachusetts, they were not alone. Many Massachusetts cities and towns have put in motion measures to stem the possibility of a pot store opening in their communities.

This widespread municipal concern has been sparked by Question 3 on the November 6 Election ballot. The measure purports to be an attempt to make marijuana legal for medical purposes, but many believe that it’s just a smokescreen for legalizing the drug for recreational use.

Locally, action to snuff out the pot shops may have been catalyzed by a pro-medical marijuana supporter’s successful effort to get an article on the November Town Meeting warrant that would allow the herbware stores in Wakefield. But rather than stick to his guns, Carl Swanson attempted to withdraw his Town Meeting article in the wake of publicity and official reaction.

But Town Meeting may get a chance to hash it out anyway, since Swanson got the requisite 10 local voters to sign the papers – requiring it to appear on the warrant regardless of Swanson’s change of heart. But town officials say that if the state’s voters bag Question 3, Swanson’s measure would be moot.

Burnzwell Medical MarijuanaThe state threw potheads a bone several years ago when it decriminalized possession of less than an ounce of weed. But one concern voiced by local officials is that legal pot emporiums could attract seedy drug dealers seeking to undercut the dispensary’s prices.

The full text of Question 3 says that in order to obtain medical marijuana under the proposed law, a “patient” would have to get a written certification “from a physician with whom the patient has a bona fide relationship” stating that the patient has a “specific debilitating medical condition and would likely obtain a net benefit from medical use of marijuana.”

The proposed law defines “debilitating medical condition” to include diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis, ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s Disease “and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.”

Well, that narrows it down.

In the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s red Information for Voters booklet mailed out to millions of voters in the Commonwealth, the entry for Question 3 goes on for five pages. But perhaps the line in the booklet that has gotten the most attention is the web site for more information listed by the anti-medical marijuana side: votenoonquestion3.org/. It turns out that the site is a spoof of those opposed to medical marijuana. The mocking site has entries like “FACT: Marijuana is the Gateway Drug to Twinkies.”

It seems that the anti-medical pot people failed to register their web site’s domain name. So, the pro-marijuana people bought the domain name and turned the web site into a spoof of those opposed to medical marijuana. But by then, the red “Information for Voters” booklets had already been printed and sent out.

The pro-marijuana crowd thinks this is hilarious. But then, they’ll laugh at practically anything.

[This column originally appeared in the September 20, 2012 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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Joint photo by Torben Hansen.

Medical Marijuana Center photo by Coke Brown Jr.

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