Mass. Hospital Association Votes Against Recreational Marijuana

Mass. Hospital Association Votes Against Recreational Marijuana

The Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) unanimously voted last week against the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, adding to a growing number of opponents to a proposed ballot measure that would decriminalize cannabis in the state.

The association’s board of directors rejected the measure, citing what it called “public health and safety concerns.” The group doesn’t want marijuana to be commercialized, which they say would make it more accessible to kids – a claim disputed by advocates. [1]

Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said of the association’s vote:

“The governor and the attorney general and the Boston mayor wrote an opinion piece that’s predicated on junk science. It’s a shame that any board would follow up with a vote . . . based on junk science.” [2]

The MHA represents 78 hospitals across the state, a spokeswoman for the organization said, including Brigham and Women’s, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Massachusetts General hospitals.

The proposal would allow adults age 21 and older to possess as much as an ounce of marijuana for recreational use, and individuals would be allowed to possess up to 10 ounces in their homes. People would be able to grow up to 12 marijuana plants per household. [3]

Read: Marijuana Overdoses Remain at Zero After 2014 and Legalizations

Lynn Nicholas, chief executive of the hospital association, said in a statement:

“Clinicians and health care leaders from around the state have a clear message — this ballot measure is the wrong prescription for Massachusetts.”

The proposed measure, which will appear on the ballot in November, would also create a Cannabis Control Commission tasked with overseeing a system of marijuana stores, grow facilities, and manufacturers of edibles. It would impose a 3.75% excise tax on retail marijuana sales, in addition to the state’s 6.25% sales tax.

Decriminalizing marijuana in Massachusetts would bring in a fortune in revenue. In Colorado, where weed was legalized for recreational use 2 years ago (medical cannabis has been legal since 2000), both legal and medical marijuana sales brought in $996.2 million for the state in 2015. That money could go to fighting the state’s opioid and heroin crisis. [4]

Despite the potential goldmine that decriminalization would be for Massachusetts, the association is not alone in its opposition to making pot legal. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, and Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are against the proposed measure.

In fact, a group of state senators proposed a temporary moratorium on home growing if the measure passes, or even an outright ban, after traveling to Colorado. The senators have also called for health risk warnings to be placed on marijuana advertising and product labels.


[1] WWLP

[2] Boston Globe

[3] The Associated Press

[4] Fortune