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Legalizing Medical Marijuana, and Keeping It Civil

Why Massachusetts should legalize medical marijuana by taking the high road, so to speak.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jeffrey A. Herman March 20, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Jeff Sanchez is a jerk. I don'feel any respect for him, especially when he showed he is capable of blatently lying during his last legislative race. For example, after not doing anything to support CORI reform, he listed it as his greatest accomplishment in his campaign literature. He also said he's from Mission Hill when he lives as far away in his district that is physically possible from Mission Hill, in Moss Hill, in back of Faulkner Hospital where there are no other Hispanics living. He is a fraud, and he continues to hold office because, as he once told me, "the voters are stupid." Those were his exact words. I could go on, but that's enough for now.
Chris Helms (Editor) March 21, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Thanks for your comment, Jeffrey. We usually try to keep the discourse more civil here on JP Patch, though for public figures like Rep. Sánchez there's more leeway. For those who don't know, I wanted to point out that Jeffrey Herman has run against Sánchez. That doesn't invalidate his points, if they're true. Just wanted everyone to know.
Chris Child March 22, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Dear Andrea, I appreciate your commentary. I too have agreed with many of Rep. Sánchez's programs, but felt he was completely off on this issue for many of the reasons you stated. I have to say though I had a less than pleasant conversation with him after he finally got back to me (after two written letters, two e-mails, and two voice-mails). He stated a lot of inaccurate facts about marijuana dispensaries having a link to crime (alleged facts that were directly stated as false by the chief of the LAPD). He tried to relate the issue of legalized recreational marijuana with medical marijuana, even though I repeatedly said I was not talking about recreational marijuana but rather a medicine for sick people. He said "marijuana does not cure diseases," as if that was the lithmus test for having a drug on the market, he apparently did not consider chronic diarrhea and vomitting as a result of chemotherapy to not be "diseases." ("dysentery" is still a cause of death, so I'm sure what his definition of a disease is.) He called me a "marijuana advocate," even though I am not involved in any organization about this policy, but similar to you, have friends and relatives with serious illness. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I'm glad you had a civil discourse with Rep. Sánchez, but in my opinion, he was extremely disrespectful to anything I had to say on this issue and I felt he had a certain stereotype about anyone who would be interested in a pro-medial cannabis policy.
Chris Child March 22, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I meant to say "pro-medical cannabis policy" at the end.
Chris Helms (Editor) March 22, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Re-reading my comment, I can see how it would be taken as a license to say anything about politicians. What I meant to say is I'd like to see our discourse here on JP Patch be civil — and free of name calling — even when public figures like politicians are involved.
Andrea Cherez March 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Thanks for your comment, Chris. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in my frustration to get some of my points across to Rep. Sanchez. It does seem like he is unwilling to be swayed by any argument for the approval of medical marijuana, even by patients themselves. I thought his main concern was potential problems with the federal government, but it would be refreshing if he at least conceded some benefits of cannabis for the extremely disabled. It might feel like more of a discussion. Oh well, we just have to continue discussing this and educating more folks in the community that aren't touched directly by this issue. Over the long haul, things do change.

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