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2609, 2016

Citing Dangers Of Edibles Market, Organization of Nurse Leaders Voices Opposition To Question 4

An organization of nurse leaders has voiced their opposition to Question 4 that would legalize the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts. The organization believes Question 4 would have a negative impact on public health, particularly due to the creation of the edibles market, and runs counter to our goal of combatting the opioid crisis.

The Organization of Nurse Leaders (ONL) voted to oppose Question 4. The organization consists of over 1,000 nurse leaders from various practice and academic settings and represents nearly all acute care hospitals in the commonwealth. Collectively, the membership employs thousands of nurses and health care workers and administers billions in operating budgets across New England.

“As nurse leaders, we also have significant concerns about the impact of creating an edibles market that markets and sells high potency candies and other products,” Tim Quigley, ONL President, said. “Our nurses care for patients and families struggling with addiction every day, and we believe legalizing the commercial marijuana industry would certainly not help that work, and may hurt it. This is the wrong path for the health and wellness of our communities.”

ONL joins an unprecedented, bi-partisan coalition of community leaders as well as health care, public safety, business, anti-addiction, and child protection advocates who are opposing Question 4.

Other groups who are opposing Question 4 include:

  • Massachusetts Hospital Association
  • Massachusetts Medical Society
  • Massachusetts Municipal Association
  • Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals
  • Associated Industries of Massachusetts
  • Retailers Association of Massachusetts
  • Association of School Superintendents
  • Construction Industries of Massachusetts
  • Action for Boston Community Development
  • Association for Behavioral Healthcare
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (Massachusetts Chapter)
  • Massachusetts Chiefs of Police
  • Massachusetts Sheriffs Association
  • all Massachusetts District Attorneys

Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Attorney General Maura Healey, Sheriff Steve Tompkins, Congressmen Joe Kennedy, Stephen Lynch, and Bill Keating, Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas, and 120 state legislators have also voiced their opposition to Question 4.

For more information on the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, visit or on twitter at @safehealthyma.

2309, 2016

ICYMI: Will Legalizing Marijuana Create Modern Bootleggers?

Black Market From Home Grow Provision is "Probably Our Number One Concern" According to CO Guv Marijuana Policy Director

Will Legalizing Marijuana Create Modern Bootleggers?
Maine Public Radio
By Fred Bever
September 21, 2016

States that have legalized marijuana are contending with a new criminal tactic — smugglers who grow and process it for export to states where it’s illegal and worth a lot more.

Colorado is the epicenter of the phenomenon, although it’s popping up in Oregon and Washington too. Now as Maine, Massachusetts and Canada consider legalizing recreational marijuana, the question arises — will the Northeast see a wave of new-age bootleggers?

During the Prohibition era, it was whiskey being run from Canada or Mexico to the U.S. Now it’s marijuana that’s being smuggled — from Colorado, where it has been fully legal since 2014, to neighboring states and beyond.

“It’s probably our No. 1 concern.” says Andrew Freedman, who directs marijuana policy for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Freedman says organized criminals are exploiting legal loopholes by collecting home-grow licenses that allow for as many as 99 marijuana plants each. And more generally, he says, criminals are using the state’s fully legalized pot economy as cover.

“Different ways you can use Amendment 20 and 64, the medical and the recreational, to kind of cloak yourself in legitimate growing. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who want to do that in order to sell out of state because there’s a huge economic incentive to want to sell out of state right now,” he says.

As in, a pound of pot, worth, say, $1,500 at the counter of a legal Colorado marijuana shop is worth $3,000 or more when it crosses the state border, instantly transmuted into a prized black-market commodity. And criminal gangs are moving in, creating a headache for Colorado law enforcement, danger to public safety and a field day for the media.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says last year, state highway patrols intercepted more than 3,500 pounds of marijuana that was destined for states beyond Colorado’s border. That’s just a tenth, they estimate, of the actual cross-border market, making it, conservatively, a $100 million-plus proposition.

Those numbers do not include busts of some pretty big syndicates, many of them recently involving Cuban nationals shipping product to Florida. And for Colorado’s neighboring states, it’s a doubly-frustrating problem, because it’s not of their own making.

“In Nebraska, Colorado’s become ground zero for marijuana production and trafficking,” says Jon Bruning, Nebraska’s attorney general, who with his counterpart in Oklahoma is trying to sue Colorado and force it to overturn its marijuana laws. “This contraband has been heavily trafficked in our state. While Colorado reaps millions from the production and sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost. Virtually every aspect of Nebraska’s criminal justice system has experienced increased expense to deal with the interdiction and prosecution of Colorado marijuana trafficking.”

One Nebraska study found that border counties saw gradual increases in pot-related arrests, jailings and costs since medicinal marijuana was legalized in Colorado, and a surge in 2014, when the recreational pot law went into effect. But the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to review the complaint by Colorado’s neighbors, which are looking for other venues to pursue their case.

Meanwhile, here on the East Coast, voters in Massachusetts and Maine are considering full legalization on the November ballot, and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling for legalization there. If those measures are all approved, police in New Hampshire are wondering what it would be like to be nearly surrounded by legal pot territory.

Andrew Shagoury is Tuftonboro’s chief of police, and the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police Association’s point-man on pot. If Maine or Massachusetts does go for legalization, he expects that at the least, problems such as small-scale smuggling and intoxicated driving will spill over the border.

“If more does spill over, the direct effect I suspect will be more accidents with people under the influence — obviously that would be a public safety concern. And I think politically you’d see more pressure for it to pass here too,” he says.

And Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy expects organized crime to open up new fields of operation.

“What’s going to stop a drug cartel from purchasing property, renting property here and running an operation at the property? And that’s something that could be situated next to a school, next to a hospital, in a suburban neighborhood. That’s a real problem,” she says.

For full story, click here.

2209, 2016

Colorado Seeing Dramatic Rise In Opioid Use

Drug Overdoes Deaths Up In Almost Every County, Higher Than National Average; Runs Counter To Yes on 4 Claims That Legalization Will Combat Opiate Crisis

Despite claims from the Yes on 4 campaign that commercial marijuana legalization is a solution to the opioid crisis, Colorado is seeing a dramatic rise in opioid use. In fact, the state has seen a dramatic increase in overdose deaths that is higher than the national average and even rural counties have been significantly impacted.

Also, according to a 2016 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Colorado ranks #1 for use of intoxicating substances. It was the only state in the country that ranked as a top consumer of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and opioid painkillers.

“Yes on 4 is now trying to sell this ballot question as a way to address the opiate crisis, when we know it the question is really about establishing a commercial marijuana industry that will promote pot edibles and allow your neighbors to grow marijuana next door,” Safe and Healthy Massachusetts Campaign Manager Nick Bayer said. “Since legalization of medical and commercial marijuana, Colorado has seen a dramatic increase in opiate abuse and now is the only state that ranks as a heavy user of marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, and opioid painkillers. Question 4 is not a solution to the opiate crisis, it contributes to the problem.”

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