Massachusetts should develop sound marijuana policy
by Dr. Kevin P. Hill, Boston Globe, April 14, 2016
With the state’s top politicians joining forces to defeat a probable referendum legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Massachusetts, the discussion once again is centering on who is in favor of legalization and who is not. But that’s the wrong question. The real question is: If residents vote for legalization — and they probably will, given that medical marijuana was overwhelmingly approved in 2012 — what should the policy look like?
Instead of setting up for a bitter battle, opponents and proponents should work together to develop a marijuana policy that gives voters what they want while also limiting risk.
The policy should be clear and evidence-based. Those who oppose legalization fear that it will increase use and, in turn, addiction, particularly in youth. While that is a reasonable fear, evidence does not support it: According to a recent paper published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, medical marijuana has not led to increases in the rate of use compared to states without this policy. Similarly, while the data on the effects of recreational marijuana legalization are limited, a study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration showed that Colorado has not seen a significant increase in use since implementing legalization. Let’s be clear, marijuana use is on the rise, but it is on the rise everywhere, and marijuana policies have not changed that.