Medical Marijuana and the future of legalization in Massachusetts

Medical Marijuana and the future of legalization in Massachusetts

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Medical Marijuana and the future of legalization in Massachusetts

Fran Cuhtahlatah, a 55-year-old woman from Washington state, smokes marijuana to help alleviate intense pain in her feet, legs and mid-spine due to arthritis. According to Cuhtahlatah, the pain in her spine feels like being beaten across her back with a baseball bat. Cuhtahlatah said her arthritis was caused from strenuous work environments including a job at a frozen food plant.

“My doctor said that she has seen a lot of people with the similar kind of spinal arthritis of people who worked in a frozen food plant,” said Cuhtahlatah.

“I couldn’t look for work. I couldn’t work. I had to almost re-accommodate myself to my own home. Everything I do now takes longer. Things I could do in three or four hours now takes eight,” said Cuhtahlatah.

Cuhtahlatah lives on very limited supply of funds. The social security office, where she gets her food and medical stamps, are cutting her monthly allotment. Within a month, Cuhtahlatah must live on less than $600 a month. She has $78 taken away from her income because of Medicare premiums. In addition, she only receives $76 for food.

She is also limited on the places where she can receive medical care. Doctors who accept medical stamps from the government are the only doctors that can help her. Sometimes she must wait several months in order to obtain an appointment.

“I did a lot of social service activities on the food stamp rules and regulations. I started a couple of statewide food stamp networks. Educating legislatures of the effects of what this is,” said Cuhtahlatah.

Cuhtahlatah does not drive a car. In order to get anywhere she needs to find a ride or walk. When she walks, the closest town is a mile or two away and she says she must rest for a day and a half after because of the immense pain.

“I’ve tried numerous arthritis medications,” said Cuhtahlatah. “I am always afraid when I purchase [marijuana] that I could lose my home. I am afraid to even almost grow my own because I was arrested a long time ago.”

Cuhtahlatah says that it is a good she owns her own home because otherwise she would be out on the street with nowhere to live.

“I feel that state’s rights are being trampled on by the federal government, and that the federal government should butt out,” said Cuhtahlatah.
Cuhtahlatah would like to see marijuana confiscated by drug dealers be brought to the health department so that ill patients can benefit from the medication.

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Related Searches



Marijuana is a natural plant that can treat many serious illnesses and make patients more comfortable. Marijuana has been proven to help HIV and AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, and also patients suffering from chronic pain.

In 10 states -- Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington -- medical marijuana has already been legalized.

CNN issued a report about the medical benefits of marijuana in certain illnesses in the United States. Firstly, the report stated that HIV and AIDS patients are prescribed marijuana in order to increase appetite and slow the process of wasting and losing lean muscle mass. Furthermore, cancer patients often use marijuana while undergoing chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy causes nausea, vomiting, and treatment anxiety that marijuana can help alleviate. Tremor relief, bladder control and decreased muscle pain are experienced in multiple sclerosis patients who use medical marijuana. Marijuana has relieved some epileptic seizures, and even reduced the eye pressure in glaucoma patients.

Finally, despite all of these terrific qualities, marijuana relaxes muscles in the body, which is proven to reduce chronic pain.

“When I started using cannabis, which I was recommended by my doctor to use, it changed my life,” said 49 year-old Lavonne Victor in an email interview.

“For years I had been bed ridden because of all the pharmaceutical drugs I was on. With the help of my doctor, I was able to get rid of the addictive medications and use cannabis. I am still on important medications for my illness, which works hand and hand with cannabis.”

Victor suffers from muscular sclerosis, panic disorders, acute depression and agoraphobia, a fear of the outside. Since 1991, Victor has gone from doctor to doctor in order to find out the condition of her health.

“I was broken mentally and physically and spiritually,” said Victor. “During this time, it was devastating for my husband and family members.”

With the help of medical marijuana, Victor worked through her fear of the outside. While she is able to use a cane to walk, she relies on a wheelchair throughout most of the day to avoid the risk of falling.

“What we need is more open-minded citizens, and more acceptance. Allow our state to govern our people and let the Feds worry about our protection of our beautiful USA,” said Victor.

“I do know that this natural herb is a grace of god. Given to us to use, to heal, to find comfort within ourselves, to gain appetite, to gain laughter instead of tears,” said Victor.

“This is the better plant and this should be available to the people as they have voted," said Victor.

However, even after voters approved medical marijuana in California, the government has taken its benefits away from the seriously ill and innocent patients who deserve their medicine.

Jeff Yablan, Scott Imler, and Jeffery Farrington were all leaders of the Los Angeles Cannabis Reform Center in 1996, after California voters passed Proposition 215, allowing the medical use of marijuana to ill patients such as themselves.

However, in October of 2001, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the center and confiscated marijuana plants, and computers as well as shut the center down after it had been operating for five years.

“It’s legal in the state of California, but the federal government doesn’t believe that it is legal,” says Yablan. “They believe that their law is superior to California’s. The Supremacy Clause, which shows that any law that conflicts with the federal government, the federal government’s law is supreme.”

These three men allowed ill patients to access marijuana that more than 400 doctors were recommending according to the National Organization of Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

“Right now, after they closed us, three more centers opened. So there is three times as many center now as before,” said Yablan.

NBC News reported all three men plead guilty to charges of maintaining a place where marijuana was manufactured and distributed.

The maximum sentence for this crime included up to 30 months in federal prison according to www.safeaccess.org. However, U.S. District Judge Howard Matz sentenced the three men to one year of probation and 100 to 250 hours of community service, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“I’m still bothered that we have a felony conviction but that’s what happens,” said Yablan.

Although the DEA shut down the cannabis center, several states, including Massachusetts, have voted to allow senators and representatives to vote for medical marijuana.

On November 2nd, Massachusetts’s citizens voted on one of four initiatives. The first instructed the state representative to vote on medical marijuana legislation. The second initiative instructed the state senator or representative to introduce and vote for the legislation making possession of marijuana a civil violation instead of a criminal violation. The third includes state representatives to vote for legislation that would make possession of less than one ounce of marijuana a civil violation, subject to a maximum fine of $100 and not subject to criminal penalties. The last initiative was unlike any other which instructed state representatives to vote for legislation that would allow the state to tax and regulate marijuana for sale to adults over 21.

In November of 2004, Massachusetts’s initiatives for medical marijuana won across the board on the election ballot, and the voters forced their opinions to be heard on the controversial and historical legislation.

Marijuana Policy Project lists the Massachusetts districts that won for medical marijuana legislation.

In addition, 80% of voters in the 24th Middlesex Representative District voted to instruct their representative to vote for medical marijuana. This includes the towns of Arlington, Belmont, and Cambridge. The Sixth Norfolk Representative District includes towns like Avon, Canton, and Stoughton, which voted 71% in favor of their representative to vote for medical marijuana.

Worcester and Norfolk Senate District, includes Blackstone, Douglas, Dudley, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Bellingham, voted 69% in favor of medical marijuana legislation. The Seventh Plymouth Representative District includes Abington, East Bridgewater, and Whitman, voted 70% favor of representatives to vote for medical marijuana.

Furthermore, the Tenth Norfolk Representative District, including Franklin and Medway voted 60% in favor to instruct representatives to vote making possession of marijuana a civil violation instead of a criminal offense.

The Second Essex Senate District, including Beverly, Peabody, Salem, Danvers, and Topsfield voted 63% favor of instructing senators to vote for possession of marijuana a civil violation instead of a criminal offense. Similarly, the Third Essex and Middlesex Senate District, includes Lynn, Marblehead, Nahant, Saugus, Swampscott, and Melrose voted 66% for senators to make possession a civil violation.

The Tenth Norfolk Representative District, including Franklin and Medway, voted 60% in favor of representatives voting to make possession of marijuana a civil violation.

In addition, the Third Plymouth Representative District, including Cohasset, Hingham, Hull and part of Scituate, voted 69% in favor to instruct representatives to vote on the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana as a civil violation subject to a maximum fine of $100 and not subject to any criminal penalties. The Sixth Worcester Representative District includes East Brookfield, Charlton, Oxford, South Bridge and Spencer voted 63% favor of the same thing. Lastly, the Twelve Worcester Representative District includes Boylston, Clinton, Northborough, Sterling and Lancaster voted 68% favor of representatives voting on possession as a civil violation subject to a maximum fine of $100.

Lastly, the voters from the First Hampshire Representative District, including Montgomery, Hatfield, South Hampton, Westhampton, and Northampton, voted 58% victory to instruct the representatives to vote on legislation that would allow the state to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults over 21.

In addition, many critics of medical marijuana believe that marijuana is a gateway drug, and by allowing medical patients its benefits, it will perpetually increase the usage of non-patients.

According to the DEA’s website, marijuana is a dangerously addictive drug with short term and long-term consequences. Some of the consequences include memory loss, trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor skills, as well as increased heart rate and anxiety.

Marijuana is said to weaken your immune system and increase the risk of heart attack. The DEA states that marijuana’s most harmful consequence is that it leads users to other drugs, such as, heroin and cocaine.

A report issued by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse stated that in 1995, 77% of illicit drug users also used marijuana. However, only 20% of marijuana users also used an illicit drug. And surprisingly, 57% of marijuana users only use marijuana and no other illicit drug. Thus, the use of illicit drugs can lead to the use of marijuana more frequently than a marijuana user trying other drugs.

As everyone knows, the government is extremely busy fighting terrorism and protecting the United States, with medical marijuana legalized, the government can prosecute the real criminals and ill patients will recieve the relief they desperately need.
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