Less than a month before the Nov. 6 election, representatives from a dozen sectors of the town are working to educate voters about the dangers of passing ballot Question 3, the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative.
Medfield Cares About Prevention met yesterday to strategize about how best to get the word out that in other states where medical marijuana initiatives have passed, the detriments raised far outweigh the benefits of this particular method of decriminalization.
“Rates of teen marijuana use skyrocket,” said director of youth outreach Dawn Alcott. “It leads to the perception that smoking marijuana is not harmful, which makes it harder to get kids into treatment.
“The ‘dispensaries’ are unregulated,” she said. “And organized crime moves in on many of them.”
Alcott spoke to the town Board of Health members at their meeting Tuesday night, in an attempt to get them to educate the public on “what this question is really about.”
“Is this designed to offer relief to patients, or is there another agenda?” she said. That other agenda, she suggested, was to push marijuana “closer and closer to legalization.”
“This isn’t medicine,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like the way to treat patients. Under this plan, marijuana goes completely unregulated.”
Alcott also described how other communities have been responding to Question 3’s potential passage. Last month, for example, Needham’s Board of Health publicly announced its opposition to the ballot question.
And Wakefield passed a town ordinance that “preemptively banned pot shops,” as marijuana dispensaries are known, she said.
The board’s hands were tied because only two members were present at the Oct. 9 meeting, and the board is prohibited from voting on any motion without a full complement of members in attendance.
Board member Kathleen Rose, acting as chairwoman, voiced her concerns about the board acting on Alcott’s suggestion.
“Educating the public can be viewed as taking a stance,” she said.
“We can’t do much in the timeframe we have,” Rose said, noting it would have been easy to do some public education on the issue at last month’s Discover Medfield Day.
So the task of educating the voters of Medfield about the dangers of Question 3 falls to Medfield Cares About Prevention, a coalition of representatives from 12 sectors of town, including the schools; businesses; so called ‘youth-serving agencies,’ like the town Park & Rec Department; parent organizations; health professionals; town government; and law enforcement.
Individuals in the coalition include Alcott, Police Chief Bob Meaney, Selectman Pete Peterson, school principals Bob Parga and Nat Vaughn, medical researcher Dr. Susan Anderson, and high school health educator Susan Cowell.
At yesterday’s meeting, this editor volunteered to serve in the coalition as the representative of the media sector.
Including the press may turn out to be crucial, Alcott said, because it is an effective way to reach the public.
“People don’t know what the bill really says,” Alcott said.
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Author: Brett Rhyne
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Website: Coalition of Medfield groups to educate about medical marijuana - Medfield, MA - Medfield Press