Wednesday October 17, 2012

In her letter to the editor of Oct. 2, Shelley Brooks writes that Question 3 would "allow anyone with a self-diagnosed condition to receive marijuana Š and grow marijuana in their homes." But the state of Massa chusetts says (in "Information for Voters") "To qualify, a patient must have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer. . . [and] would also have to obtain a written certification from a physician with whom the patient has a bona fide physician-patient relationship, that the patient has a specific debilitating medical condition and would likely obtain a net benefit from medical use of marijuana." Those patients who qualify would also have to register with the state Dept. of Public Health and, if approved, carry a valid registration card.

The proposed law also states that a qualifying patient may only obtain a cultivation registration when "access to a medical treatment center is limited by verified financial hardship, a physical incapacity to access reasonable transportation, or the lack of a treatment center within a reasonable distance Š" A "medical treatment center" is defined as a not-for-profit entity, registered with DPH and meeting further conditions. I assume these centers are what Ms. Brooks refers to as "corner pot shops."

To anyone who reads even a summary of Question 3, Ms. Brooks’ statement above is clearly false. I don’t mind a debate on Question 3. But Ms. Brooks apparently feels that her opposition to this proposed law is not convincing enough on its own merits.

Ms. Brooks further states "If marijuana has medical value, then thoroughly research and test it through clinical trials Š" Well, to date, there are over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature pertaining to the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, nearly one-third of which were published within the last three years. For example, in Febru ary 2010 investigators at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Re search publicly announced the findings of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials on the medical utility of inhaled cannabis. The studies, which utilized the so-called "gold standard’’ FDA clinical trial design, concluded that marijuana ought to be a "first line treatment" for patients with neuropathy and other serious illnesses.

I do not intend to imply that cannabis is always harmless. As with any medication, patients should consult thoroughly with their physician before deciding whether the medical use of cannabis is safe and appropriate. But let’s debate this question honestly without resorting to falsehoods and misleading statements.

GEORGE RILEY

Sandisfield