I signed up to blog months ago but finally found the spark this week (by messing up) to start writing. I've been in JP for twenty years and have always been interested in various community issues, especially involving dogs, trees, parks and basic civil liberties.
The most recent issue that has me concerned is the need to legalize medical marijuana in Massachusetts. Many of us, including myself, have a close friend or family member that is suffering with cancer or some other seriously debilitating injury or disease. In many cases, when all legal options have been exhausted, only medical marijuana may remain to safely alleviate pain, increase appetite and general quality of life. I can't accept any excuse that prevents so many in need from immediately receiving these benefits.
However, in my zeal to effect some progress on this issue, I now feel that I went overboard in letters and posts, and unfairly disparaged our state representative, Jeffrey Sánchez. Rep. Sánchez has always supported bills that have been important to me, some like the Transgender Equal Rights bill that have benefited me personally. I've voted for him and always considered him an ally, and a true representative of so many different contingents in Jamaica Plain. Until now. We disagree on legalizing medical marijuana. He is concerned that with the federal government still opposed, there would be negative implications to the state if we moved ahead. I feel that with sixteen states having already legalized medicinal use, the best way to reverse federal prohibitions is for more states to get on board.
After speaking with Representative Sánchez earlier this week, I realize that we will continue to disagree on this, but I now honestly believe that he sincerely holds his position and is doing everything he thinks is right and responsible as the legislative Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. And I should have given him the benefit of the doubt until we had communicated. Though I will continue to advocate for my position, I plan to do so without insulting or “demonizing the opposition”. I've often gotten on my soapbox to denounce that kind of behavior and now am guilty of it myself. With so much our country polarized from top to bottom, I feel that the only hope is if we all start to listen to each other with respect, and realize that no one can know the whole truth about anything. We need different points of view to put it all together. With big apologies to Representative Sánchez, I plan to keep this lesson foremost in mind as I continue to advocate.