The following statement was submitted by city Health Director Sharon Cameron on behalf of the Peabody Board of Health.
The city of Peabody Board of Health is opposed to Massachusetts referendum Question 3, “Medical Use ofMarijuana.”
The Board of Health has compassion for those suffering from diseases like cancer, AIDs, and other debilitating illnesses. However, the Board of Health opposes Ballot Question 3 for the following reasons:
- There is a large body of scientific research demonstrating that smoking may cause cancer, respiratory disease, cardiac disease, and other health problems. Individuals have access to FDA-approved medication containing the active ingredient in marijuana that does not require the user to smoke.
- Experience in other states shows that most users of medical marijuana programs (approximately 95 percent of users) do not suffer from chronic, life-threatening diseases such as cancer or HIV/AIDs. In those states, the average medical marijuana user is a 32-year-old male with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and no history of life-threatening illness.
- Experience in other states also shows that access to medical marijuana increases rates of teen marijuana use. By the 11th grade, one in three Massachusetts teenagers uses marijuana regularly. In our state, most kids seeking treatment for substance abuse are marijuana users.
- The Board of Health believes that “medicine” is a term for those products and materials determined, through rigorous evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to be safe and effective when prescribed and distributed in proper dosages for the individual patient. Marijuana has not undergone such evaluation. The use of marijuana as medicine is not supported by the Massachusetts Medical Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Cancer Society, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and many other reputable medical organizations.
The Board of Health believes that Ballot Question 3 will create a public health problem by promoting smoking and by expanding access to marijuana to youth and to adults with substance abuse histories.
The Board of Health supports the further research and development of medication derived from marijuana to ease the pain of those suffering from debilitating illness.