The Massachusetts Hospital Association has voted unanimously against a proposed ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, as debate over legalizing pot for people aged 21 and over continued to rage statewide. Massachusetts decriminalized cannabis in 2008 and made medical marijuana legal in 2012, and the state has begun seeing a push to legalize pot for recreational use in a November ballot measure, the Boston Globe reported.
“Clinicians and healthcare leaders from around the state have a clear message — this ballot measure is the wrong prescription for Massachusetts,” Lynn Nicholas, chief executive of the hospital association, said. The board of trustees of the association, which represents 78 licensed member hospitals, voted against the ballot measure last week.
Critics of the proposed measure have said the science and safety studies surrounding pot have not been widely performed enough to say for certain that the drug is safe. Supporters of the measure have pointed out how attempts to study the drug have been repeatedly blocked by the federal government, while noting that legalization could possibly take money away from a powerful pharmaceutical industry.
Debate over recreational legalization has also divided politicians throughout the state. Gov. Charlie Baker, along with Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, penned a scathing column in the Boston Globe earlier in the month, discouraging Massachusetts residents from voting "yes" on the measure. Citing how children might have increased access to marijuana, Baker warned of the possibility that marijuana was a gateway drug to substance abuse later in life — an assertion that proponents of the measure vehemently deny.
State lawmakers have voiced concern over what they say are consequences of the measure passing, including how children could have easy access to the drug if family members kept it in the house. Edibles, or pot baked into cookies, brownies and other foods, were also a concern for lawmakers, who said they feared children could accidentally consume marijuana if recreational legalization passed.