Question 3 on today's ballot asks Massachusetts residents to legalize the use of medical marijuana.
If passed, Walpole Deputy Police Chief John Carmichael believes that it could be detrimental to the state in many ways.
"It’s definitely going to affect the quality of life," he said. "The reason why is because we’re allowing up to 35 dispensaries in the state of Massachusetts; at least one in every county and up to five in each county. So we’re allowing these dispensaries to grow and cultivate and sell marijuana in unlimited quantities. There’s no limit.”
Carmichael said that the proposed law, as is, is written very loosely and believes it will allow for rampant abuse by those who smoke marijuana recreationally.
"This law is saying that in order to qualify to get your card to get medical marijuana you have to suffer from a serious medical condition, the most commons ones are cancer and glaucoma, AIDS, those type of issues. But it also included other conditions as determined in writing by a qualified patient’s physician.
“In California, most of the people that use medical marijuana are between 21-years-old and 40-years-old. The vast majority of them don’t suffer from cancer or AIDS or glaucoma or any serious medical condition. Most of them suffer from issues such as back pain and migraines, things that you can’t really debate with a patient."
Another loophole, he said, is that the law allows for a card holder to carry and purchase up to a 60-day supply of marijuana, however it does not specify how much pot that actually is.
“They can go to a dispensary and buy a 60-day supply of marijuana and then tomorrow they can do the same exact thing. So to think that this isn’t going to be used and be exploited for drug use doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
“The other aspect is the patients and the caregivers, if they can declare a hardship, they can also grow and cultivate and manufacture and produce marijuana for their own personal use. The law says that they’ll be able to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana, which is undetermined. It doesn’t mention what that is in the law,” he said. "It could be a pound, it could be 8 ounces, who knows?"
From a law enforcement perspective, Carmichael expects an uptick in related crimes if medical marijuana comes to Mass.
“There will be robberies. There will be people that are robbed in their homes because they have grow houses, because they don’t have the ability to get to the dispensaries themselves. There’s going to be burglaries, additional drug dealing, there’s going to be money laundering, there will be all of these other ancillary crimes that will take place because of this,” he said.
There is a drug called Marinol currently prescribed by doctors that has similar affects to marijuana and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, he said.
“Saying that smoked forms of marijuana are a medicine, that doesn’t make any sense.
"There is already a drug out there, Dronabinal, which the brand name is Marinol, which is a substance that contains THC and it’s covered under the Controlled Substances Act and it’s legal. That drug is a controlled substance that’s out there on the market that doctors issue every day and that basically treats the same ailments as what ever these smoked forms of marijuana would do."
Carmichael is worried that if the law passes it could lead to more kids developing troubling patterns at a younger age.
“Ever since decriminalization happened, we’ve already had the age of onset group go down and the number of kids in those age cohorts have gone up," he said. "The age of onset groups are going down which is a problem because the earlier they start doing that they develop drug use patterns and drug use behavior at that age."
The plant is still illegal on a federal level and he likens the proposed dispensaries to drug dealing.
“There’s a lot of misinformation and that type of thing and I think to me this is a very bad policy, it’s very bad for the state,” Carmichael said. “I’m going to vote ‘No.’”