BOSTON (CBS) – Some people say medical marijuana is about helping people who are seriously ill, but others worry there’s a potential for abuse.

Jerry from Whitinsville Declared his Curiosity, asking:

“Are they ever going to pass a law allowing medical marijuana to help people with chronic pain?”

Well, there’s a new push here in Massachusetts to do just that.

Steve Saling has advanced ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. He uses a computer to speak and told us: “I think medical marijuana should be available. This medicine calms the constant spasms in my muscles and the rigidity in my joints. I have tried everything else my doctors have recommended and nothing else works.”

WBZ-TV’s David Wade reports.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, including New England neighbors Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. However, in Mass., pot for medical use has been a non-starter. Some lawmakers say that should change and it’s time for the state to legalize medical marijuana, but that controversial idea has run into trouble in other states. Even if some sick people can benefit, the concern is, will a law cause more problems than it cures?

Read: The proposed Massachusetts bill

“The bill is really about compassion,” says State Rep. Frank Smizik, the primary sponsor of the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Act. “Now people are buying it, they can get it on the street, and that’s illegal.”

He wants to change that to what he says is a tightly crafted law.

Under the proposed law, only people with about ten very serious illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS and Multiple Sclerosis would be able to get a license for medical marijuana. Patients would need recommendations from their doctors. No more than 19 dispensaries would be licensed to grow and sell marijuana, and the state Department of Public Health would control the system.

But, some people doubt the state will keep tight control. There have been problems in other states because of loose regulations. Potential abuse is the concern.

In a statement, Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone told us he’s open to medical marijuana, but with a caution: “…provided that proper regulatory measures are in place to ensure that there is systemic accountability that prevents abuse.”

Advocates say the Mass. bill has controls to do just that.

“It’s a balance of allowing safe access for suffering, qualifying patients, and including the kind of strict regulations that will prevent abuse of the system,” says Matt Allen, from the Mass. Patient Advocacy Alliance.

The debate gets underway next week with a hearing at the State House, and Steve Saling has his own question for lawmakers: “Why shouldn’t I have access to an effective, safe, all natural drug?”

Even if the bill passes, there’s another issue. Since marijuana is illegal at the federal level, authorities have busted dispensaries even though state laws allow them.

New Hampshire has also been debating this issue. Even though the House passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana, the state Senate table it, effectively killing the bill for now.

David Wade

Comments (30)
  1. erik says:

    This should have happened years ago… What right does anyone have to tell people that they should suffer??? People like Steve Sailing deserve anything that will help lessen their suffering. Thank you for covering this important piece of legislation. I hope to hear more of this in the future!

  2. emom says:

    Just legalize it,,,, sell it like cigaretts,,, let us be pain free….. besides if you truely think about it its another way the state house can retrieve $$$’s another tax for a great idea instead of a real stupid idea like taxing soda and candy……

  3. mary jane says:

    People should not be getting forced onto an addictive opiate-based drug every time they get sent to the ER. If marijuana is a gateway drug then why is it illegal to sit on the fence and perfectly legal to get shoved right into the Red Bull canned booze and the Dr prescribed Oxycontin pathway? Not only easy to get regardless of age, but addictive, and as long as we are based off of these addictive pills it’s almost impossible for those with drug addictions (often caused by chronic pain medication to begin with) to get and stay clean. If we use the safer plant alternatives to begin with people wouldn’t become addicts as an almost automatic end result of severe chronic pain. You can buy cigarettes, alcohol, and tylenol in any store even though they each kill more people a day than marijuana ever has. Pot is safer, it’s healthier, it better for the planet and society. There’s no legitimate reason– no opposing argument not easily refuted– why this plant is illegal and why people should be in pain.

  4. Wilson says:

    Motrin is for wimps. Bring on the Reefer. I have Benny Hill episodes ready to go.

  5. HumphreyPloughjogger says:

    Cannabis, aka marijuana & hemp is an annual herb, with medicinal qualities, nutrituous seeds, and a stalk the outter fibers of which is one of the strongest natural fibers, and an inner stock of almost pure cellulous that can be converted into just about everything we now produce from trees and fossilized carbon (coal, natural gas & petroleum).
    The prohibition is unconstitutional. The only law that should be applied to production and commerce in this blessing from creation is that the herb not be sold or given to a child without the consent of their parent.
    As more and more of us wake up from the delusions and fallacies that benight Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone and inpart reinforced by benighted legislation that falls short of outright legalization we will realize, as I wrote almost 250 years ago, that “We shall by and by want a world of hemp more for our own consumption” for all this plant can give us.

  6. Nakor420 says:

    I recently had surgery implanting ten scews and a steel plate in my leg. I’m in severe chronic pain from this. I also suffer from depression, anxiety amd insomnia. I NEED this law to pass. PLEASE GOD LET IT PASS! :(

  7. steve says:

    It’s time the federal laws get reformed to allow individual states the right to vote on the drug. There are far worse drugs that can be prescribed by doctors; recently I saw a television ad for a pharmaceutical drug, they listed one of the possible side effects as death. HELLO, never heard of anyone dying of weed. The laws that are in place have been made by the brain washed era of politicians that believed what they heard and saw in Reefer Maddness. This is almost as pathetic as the trial against Amanda Knox that said a marijuana drug fueled orgy lead to the death of that other girl. Nobody smoking pot is going to get the urge to kill someone, please, doubt they’d have enough energy to get off the couch to do anyone any harm. Worst I’ve ever had happen is I ate waaay to much haha.

    1. HumprheyPloughjogger says:

      Barney Frank and others will soon file a bill in Congress to remove all federal penalties and allow the states to experiment with different versions of legalization.

  8. Lisa Francis says:

    why would mass only allow for certain illnesses….i suffer from migraines and an arthritic hip and my husband has been on prescribed opiates for his chronic pain for almost three years from a 3 story fall he took. The opiates have taken their toll and medical marijuanna would be a healthier choice for both of us….medical marijuanna would benefit me also with my migraines by alleviating them and also helping with the nausea and vomiting that accompanies them.

    1. JD says:

      life has potential abuse in all that we do.beacon hill knows this but has no balls to do the right thing,they would rather inact a bathroom bill to let perverts use any public bathroom they want. The bill does not go far enough it should be for other things like anxiety,depression,migrains, joint pain( no pun intended).

  9. Ellen says:

    Going in for a knee replacement and they will have me on pain medication, so what’s the difference between that in taking some marijuanna. Hey if your in pain and this helps then legalize it for God’s sake.

    1. Humphreyploughjogger says:

      No difference. Heal soon.

  10. steve says:

    How long are we going to have to wait before the govt sees that it’s efforts at keeping marijuana illegal is no better than when they tried to outlaw alcohol. What happened then, did people stop drinking? For the most part no. Instead, millions and millions of dollars went into the hands of the mob who supplied the outlawed alcohol. Same thing is happening today with marijuana. Just because it’s illegal, it’s clearly evident that people don’t care and continue to smoke it. The govt is stupid in it’s stubbornness to legalize it. There is a ridiculous amount of money the govt is passing up by keeping this way and where is all that money going? Into the hands of street criminals, drug dealers. If someone is an adult and wants to smoke a little pot; whether it be for pain relief or to wind down at the end of a day the same way someone does by pouring themselves a drink, they now have to interact with drug dealers, rather than going to a store, buying some and having some of that money going back to the govt. It’s a win win if it were legalized. I’d bet anything that if a vote were in place the same as the one to decriminalize it, that the overwhelming population would vote to legalize it.

  11. emom says:


  12. erik says:

    for more info on what we are doing in Mass to pass this law.

    thank you for your interest!

    together we can make this difference in our state!

  13. Wilson says:

    After paranoia sets in break out the Doritos and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

  14. Tyler Stanton says:

    Well as a young guy i will have a constant pain in my leg for ever . steel and artificial bone.. the doctors perscribed me pain pills which i found to be just bad for you honestly. i flushed the pills and smoke mary jane. it works much better and i can function after smoking. unlike the pills which made me zombie like and didnt even work for pain. If you watch the movie totally baked it gives insight into the greatness of the natural plant. the government only banned it to make way for the big cotton corporations to begin with anyway. they wanted the money instead of the hemp business. mary jane has many other great uses than just smoking it. clothing, decoration, etc etc. the government had no reason to ban it other than cotton wanted the money. there are no proven pot deaths ever. but alchol for example kills how many people everyday. it makes people angry and fight etc etc.. have you ever seen a bunch of angry pot heads nope i didnt think so. the government is just stupid and would rather ppl kill them selves with booze than be happy with buds. So i say SPARK IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. steven says:

    people have a right to relax. having a drink or know what i mean. i prefer the marijuana. would everyone feel better if i became an alcoholic?get drunk beat the wife and kids? not to mention the addiction and liver problems. how about cigaretts don’t get me started. how about taking the alcohol out of beer at sporting events? how do u think that would sit with alcoholics?

    1. mary jane says:

      marijuana is certainly better than cigarettes and cancer. the trouble with marijuana is that it so easily replaces so many other industries (and does it better) which is why it is such a threat to them that they collude and vilify it.

  16. jerry says:

    Well i hope that they will consider legalizing this for chronic pain such as for my back & neck & knees i take freakin pain pills for all three problems and i still hurt and can not get any relief hardly , it is getting to the point i have been thinking of going to the streets to buy it instead of waiting to legalize it . But i rather do the right thing and do it the legal way . What makes me so mad is more people die from freakin drunk drivers instead of pot but pot is illegal but beer and wine and liquer is legal WHATS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

  17. Wilson says:

    I’ll need to go into the attic and get my Aqualung album cover to clean my weed on. Maybe Boston or Pink Floyd “The Wall”. Any will work. Problem is I don’t have a turntable to play the albums.

  18. Joe says:

    I have MS Im 34 years old, Two kids 10 and 12. Found out I have MS about 5 years ago. My MS is bad for my age, I have tryed all the med’s they offer for this. They all did not work. Now im on Chemo witch is not FDA aproved for MS.
    My life……Pain pain and more PAIN. It never stops. Now im on the pain pill OC. I hate it. It works a little but not good. I smoke some pot and atleast 59% of pain is gone. With the pain pill and a little pot 79% pain free. I can deal with 79% and live life the best i can . That means no crying in bed,Doing more with my kids,And looking forword to life again.

  19. erik says:

    every single person who has commented here, please do go to the testimony day before the joint committee on public health on june 28th at the state capital room a 1. testimony begins at 10 am, and everyone who has an opinion has the right to make it heard by our representatives!

  20. Mike says:

    Here’s what really kills me. “but others worry there’s a potential for abuse.” This argument holds zero weight. Cheeseburgers have the “potential for abuse”. They are legal. Chocolate has the “potential for abuse”. It is legal. Do I even need to mention the next two…alcohol and tobacco have the “potential for abuse…AND TO KILL!” They are all legal. You can’t have one and not the others based on what you personally believe is morally right or wrong.

    The real issue here is about people’s rights. No one is out trying to stop fat people from gorging on McDonald’s by throwing them in prison. Eat as much of it as you’d like I really don’t care. Just don’t try to tell others what they can or can’t possess and enjoy safely in the privacy of their own home. This is seriously second grade math people…Maybe the legislation needs to be written in crayon for our government officials to understand the issue.

    1. mary jane says:

      A couple went on vacation to a fishing resort up north. The husband liked to fish at the crack of dawn; the wife preferred to read.

      One morning the husband returned after several hours of fishing and decided to take a short nap. The wife decided to take the boat out. She was not familiar with the lake so she rowed out, anchored the boat, and started reading her book.

      Along comes the sheriff in his boat, pulls up alongside and says, “Good morning, Ma’am. What are you doing?” “Reading my book,” she replies as she thinks to herself, “Is this guy blind or what?”

      “You’re in a restricted fishing area,” he informs her. “But, Officer, I’m not fishing. Can’t you see that?” “But you have all this equipment, Ma’am. I’ll have to take you in and write you up.”

      “If you do that I will charge you with rape,” snaps the irate woman. “I didn’t even touch you,” grouses the sheriff. “Yes, that’s true … but you have all the equipment …”

  21. Steve says:

    I hate how people opposed to this keep saying “it sends a bad message to kids” and “worry there’s a potential for abuse”. OF COURSE THERE IS! There’s potential for abuse with EVERY SINGLE DRUG on the market right now. Heck, ever heard of people abusing sleeping pills? I don’t hear you all running around telling them they have to take Ambien off the market. People who are going to abuse drugs are going to abuse them regardless of what drug it is. If the govt was so worried about that aspect of it, there wouldn’t be any drugs on the market. People abuse oxycontin, Ambien, Xanax, Percocet, do you need me to keep going? This is one of the worst excuses to keep a drug off the market. If it’s going to help people they should pass it. I understand some worry about side effects, but we’re talking about a naturally growing plant, not a chemical composition made in a lab. Take a look at some of the drugs that have been approved, some side effects listed for prescription drugs range from headaches, to rectal bleeding, to “in rare cases” death. It’s called kick backs. The govt gets money from the pharmaceutical companies that spend a lot of money researching and developing these drugs and that are why they get passed. Nobody is going to give the govt money for making marijuana avail.

  22. jamiefolk says:

    America has more people in jail than any other country in the world. This is due largely to our insane drug laws. How can we continue to call ourselves the land of the free in light of this reality? It is time we let people do what they want to do and stop making drug dealers rich. The people want it, the big drug companies and liquor giants dont. That is just reality.

  23. Serkan says:

    Bu sitedede benzer konular işlenmiş ve ayriyetten merak edilenlerde cabası
    Bknz .

  24. test says:

    i dont want to smoke 2nd hand marjuana. dont legalized it.

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