BOSTON (CBS) – Should Massachusetts residents suffering from illnesses be allowed to use medical marijuana to ease their pain?
It is a question that could be decided by voters this fall. Both sides of this highly charged issued will be on Beacon Hill Tuesday to argue their case.
In sixteen states, it is legal for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for patients suffering from all kinds of ailments. And soon, that option may be available in Massachusetts.
Whitney Taylor of the American Civil Liberties Union supports the move to legalize medical marijuana.
“It has been determined that is very helpful for certain patients and certain illnesses and we think doctors and patients should have all the options out there,” said Taylor.
Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez says the Public Health Committee is considering two bills that give doctors the authority to dispense pot. But, Tuesday’s public hearing is required before residents can vote on the issue in the fall.
“The petition initiative (possible ballot question) before us for tomorrow is a lot broader and potentially more extensive than the bills which we have in committee right now,” said Rep. Sanchez.
However, Wayne Sampson, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association says he has real concerns about any medical marijuana law.
Sampson says regardless of what lawmakers or voters do, it is still against federal law to possess marijuana.
In California, where medical marijuana is legal, federal agents have raided several store fronts that grow and sell the drug.
“Yes we have concerns, it is a controlled substance that we would essentially have no control over,” said Rep. Sanchez.
Nonetheless, the ACLU says polls indicate voters will support medical marijuana by a wide margin.