All the debate and unhappiness in Lee aside, the Board of Selectmen had no grounds on which to oppose a medical marijuana clinic. State law won't allow it.
The board voted 2-1 Tuesday night not to try to block a medical marijuana clinic off Route 102 proposed by Massachusetts Alternative Care Incorporated (Eagle, August 4). As Selectwoman Patricia Carlino told residents, the clinics are legal businesses that sell to people in real need, not to kids looking to buy pot.
That is a distinction that has been getting lost in the debate. Medical marijuana is being used for the treatment of pain, depression, nausea, sleep disorders and a wide variety of other ailments. A study released Wednesday reported that doctors in Massachusetts and across the nation are increasingly turning away from conventional medications to medical marijuana.
According to the study results published in the journal Health Affairs, this resulted in a reduction in spending of about $165 million on prescription drugs under Medicare in one year. This transition could translate to a decreased use of the opioids that are fueling the state's deadly heroin epidemic. Assertions that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder drugs are largely anecdotal.
Six medical marijuana clinics have opened across the state without incident. The real issue facing the state is November's ballot question that could legalize recreational marijuana use in the state. The attorney for the Lee group has assured residents that the medical marijuana clinic is not a stalking horse for recreational sales, which has been written into the deed.
State voters resoundingly approved medical marijuana clinics by referendum vote on the 2012 ballot, and because the state was in denial and unprepared it has taken this long for the clinics to begin to come into existence. Lee's clinic is at least two years away.
This time, state officials had best be prepared for the real possibility that recreational clinics will be approved by voters on November 8. After-the-fact opposition to a state law is pointless.