As the Nov. 6 election looms, voters are considering not only who they want to lead the government, but also how they will vote on several ballot questions.
In particular, Ballot Question 3, "Medical Use of Marijuana," has created plenty of discussion and, in Wayland, that discussion has reached into some of the town's departments and organizations.
The Committee for Compassionate Medicine argues in favor of the question, saying it will ease suffering for patients with a variety of diseases, while the group Vote No on Question 3 argues the loopholes in the law are too big too ignore.
In Wayland, several groups have placed their support behind the opposition.
On Monday, WaylandCares director Heidi Heilman spoke at the Board of Health's meeting to outline her organization's position statement in opposition to the passage of Ballot Question 3 and discuss the Board of Health's own position on the topic.
WaylandCares is grant-funded organization focused on preventing youth substance abuse. As such, its position statement (attached to this article as a PDF) outlines various aspects of the law that the organization believes could negatively impact youth.
The Board of Health, however, is concerned with the larger Wayland population. It voted unanimously Monday to support a broader position statement related to the question:
“The health and wellbeing of Wayland residents is of the utmost importance to the Board of Health and the introduction of a potential new marijuana supply line is seen as contrary to this aim. The Board of Health opposes Ballot Question 3 and urges the Board of Selectmen to do the same.”
“I’ve taken care of a lot of cancer patients and more than a few patients with MS [multiple sclerosis], and I have never been approached by someone requesting marijuana or assistance obtaining it,” said Michael Bean, a medical doctor and member of the board. Where is the groundswell of medical provider support?”
Heilman pointed out at the Board of Health meeting that passage of Ballot Question 3 would allow, in the first year, 35 marijuana dispensaries to be set up anywhere in the state, including Wayland, which is a facet of the question that particularly concerns Wayland Police Chief Bob Irving.
Irving is a member of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, which voted to take a stance against Ballot Question 3. It's a position that Irving said he fully supports.
"I think there’s a lot of concerns in the proposed ballot question that I have for our community," said Irving, who did not attend the Board of Health meeting. "I think it could make it easier for our youth to obtain marijuana. It’s also unclear where these 35 dispensaries would be located. If one happened to be located in Wayland, I think it would cause significant concerns for the police department."
Irving said he believes that other states that have passed medical marijuana legislation have "some regrets."
“It just seems to me that a lot more work needs to be done before such a measure is taken,” Irving said. "I think people who really think it will be used to ease the suffering of people who are really sick or dying, I don’t think anyone would be opposed to that. I think the way law is written, it opens it up for abuse."
Wayland's Board of Selectmen is expected to discuss Ballot Question 3 at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 29.