Massachusetts Nurses Association, Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses, SEIU 1199, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, New England Coalition of Cancer Survivorship and AIDS Action Committee and Hampshire County Sheriff among those to endorse Question 3
(Boston) – A broad cross section of healthcare, cancer and labor organizations across Massachusetts endorsed Question 3 today that will provide medical marijuana to suffering patients that deserve compassionate care. The Massachusetts Nurses Association, the Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses, SEIU 1199, Massachusetts Chapter of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, the New England Coalition of Cancer Survivorship, AIDS Action Committee, AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts, National Chronic Fatigue and Immune Deficiency Syndrome Foundation, ACLU of Massachusetts, and Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance are among those groups whom have endorsed Question 3.
“Nurses are on the front lines of healthcare every day, taking care of patients and their families,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. “We understand the unique benefits medical marijuana has on a myriad of different conditions. We encourage voters to have compassion for patients and vote yes on Question 3.”
Linda Brantley, President of the New England Coalition for Cancer Survivorship agrees. “NECCS supports legalization for medical use so that those suffering who need it most can get what they need without fear of breaking the law. We know there are many patients and physicians who cannot voice their support for this for fear of repercussion. For us, Ballot Question 3 is all about the patients. We know people who have been able to enjoy relief from chronic pain, nausea, sleeplessness and other side effects of cancer treatment by using marijuana. NECCS believes that doctors should have this among their tools for those patients they believe it will help. It should be a patient and physician decision. When faced with the choice for a loved one, colleague or friend, we argue that few would be able to deny those they care about the treatment option. Voters need to consider this ballot initiative through that lens.,” Brantley said.
“Healthcare workers across the Massachusetts recognize the need to show compassion for patients suffering from debilitating diseases,” said Veronica Turner, the Executive Vice-President of SEIU Local 1199. “We urge Massachusetts residents to vote yes on Question 3. It is time that patients have safe access to medicine as those in seventeen other states.”
Massachusetts’ prohibition of medical marijuana means that patients and their physicians are unable to consider the full spectrum of medical treatments available. In providing compassionate care, it should be up to the doctor and the patient to decide the best course of treatment. For many patients suffering from debilitating illness, medical marijuana has proven highly effective as an appetite stimulant, an option to minimize nausea and vomiting, a muscle relaxant and an alternative to heavy prescription painkillers. The Massachusetts medical marijuana initiative is based on best practices of seventeen other states and the District of Columbia, including our neighbors of Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
“A stroke forced me to retire as a Massachusetts State Police Trooper that left me in chronic debilitating pain. To help ease the pain I was prescribed pharmaceuticals that left me lethargic and unable to care for my daughters,” said Karen Hawkes. “With my background in law enforcement, I was extremely hesitant to use medical marijuana, but after doing a lot of research I decided I should try it. Medical marijuana is the only medicine that effectively alleviates my pain. Now I am able to be active in my church, involved in my daughters’ girls scout troop, bring my kids to their music lessons, and do volunteer work as a family. My kids have their mom back.”
Patients with debilitating conditions, such as cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions as determined in writing by a patient’s physician will qualify to participate in the medical marijuana program.
This initiative requires a doctor writing recommendations have a bona fide relationship with their patient and that the state verifies all recommendations. A patient would be able to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of state regulated non-profit treatment centers. The petition creates a safe and well regulated framework for patients to access medical marijuana under the care of their doctor. There will be a maximum of 35 treatment centers in the state, with no more than five treatment centers in any one county.
The Massachusetts initiative will be the safest medical marijuana law in the country. The law would create a new felony for anyone who defrauds the medical marijuana system with a penalty of up to five years in prison for distribution. A person who now faces a mere civil fine for possession of less than an ounce could face a criminal conviction and a jail sentence if they defraud the medical marijuana system.
“As Sheriff of Hampshire County for the past 28 years I am committed to the law and I support the proposed medical marijuana initiative in Massachusetts,” said Sheriff Robert Garvey. “I have seen people suffer from cancer and other debilitating diseases and strongly believe they should have access to every treatment option available. I am not a doctor, but I don’t think I should be denying a drug that overwhelmingly has a positive impact on patients going through horrible ordeals. This is clearly a medical issue, where the best course of treatment is determined by a physician and their patient, not a legal issue that should be determined by me and other law enforcement agents.”
Nationally, the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of HIV Medicine, the American Bar Association, American College of Physicians, American Medical Students Association, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, California Medical Association, HIV Medicine Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Medical Society of the State of New York, and the Rhode Island Medical Society are among the groups that support access to medical marijuana for patients under the supervision of a doctor.
Medical marijuana saves lives and patients across Massachusetts are suffering. To hear their stories and learn more about why residents should vote Yes on Question 3, please visit our website http://www.compassionforpatients.com/.