Marijuana dispensary law, not honest or sound


To the Editor:

Thank you to The Martha’s Vineyard Times for your ongoing efforts to educate the community about medical marijuana and the impact of the new law allowing local dispensaries.

As someone who voted in favor of the ballot initiative, I have been surprised to learn how flawed the regulations are, what few safeguards are in place to assure a common sense approach to allow the drug to be available. Perhaps we should keep in mind that the regulations were written by the Department of Public Health, the same agency in charge of overseeing the compounding pharmacies that gave us meningitis-tainted steroids and the state crime lab forced to overturn thousands of cases.

I believe cannabis has a role to play in treating some medical conditions and relieving symptoms. It is time to challenge the view that pharmaceutical drugs are acceptable, but marijuana is not. It is time to admit that maintaining a legal distinction between the use of alcohol and the use of marijuana is artificial at best.

However, this law and the creation of dispensaries are not about any of that. It is about business. When did Massachusetts choose vice as their economic stimulus plan?

Medical marijuana, in its current form, will not be dispensed by “prescription.” There are no standard dosages to guide the patient or caregiver in administration. No one is required to evaluate its effectiveness in symptom control and then modify the dose or ratio of active cannabinoids to treat specific symptoms. This medical marijuana bill is not about medicine and it is not about health care.

The dispensaries are required to be nonprofit, meaning they will be exempt from local property taxes. Pharmacies don’t have this distinction. Why does marijuana qualify? The only agency gaining from this rule is the Department of Public Health.

Health insurance — whether public or private — will not help you pay for medical marijuana. If marijuana truly is medicine, why not? However, you will be allowed a 60-day supply — 10 ounces. I’m sure the stickers on the bags saying you are not allowed to share will be as effective as the stickers on the oxycontin bottles.

The marijuana dispensary law is shockingly bad. It is not an honest step forward. Voters should insist that it go back to the drawing board before adopting town bylaw changes.

Juleann VanBelle

West Tisbury