EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Election Connection

November 6, 2012

Voters OK medical marijuana

BOSTON (AP) — State voters legalized medical marijuana and approved a law that will require new cars to have diagnostic systems that are accessible to all mechanics, not just the dealerships that sold them.

A ballot question that would legalize physician-assisted suicide for people with terminal illnesses was too close to call late last night. Opponents were slightly ahead with about half the votes counted.

People dealing with terminal illnesses also took a keen interest in the medical marijuana law, which will allow people with debilitating medical conditions to get the drug legally.

The law eliminates state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by people with cancer, hepatitis C, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, AIDS or other conditions determined by a patient’s doctor.

Opponents said the law is ripe for abuse and fraud and could lead to a proliferation of marijuana dispensaries, or pot shops, which are difficult to regulate. And they said they saw the ballot question as the next step toward full legalization of marijuana.

In 2008, Massachusetts decriminalized possession of marijuana in amounts under 1 ounce.

The law will require patients to get written certifications from their doctors that they have specific medical conditions and would be likely to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for their personal medical use.

It will allow for non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers regulated by the state Department of Public Health to grow and provide marijuana to patients or their caregivers.

For patients who have limited access to a treatment center, the law will allow them to grow marijuana plants to produce 60-day supplies for personal use.

If the suicide ballot question passes, Massachusetts would become the third state, after Oregon and Washington, to legalize physician-assisted suicide for people with terminal illnesses.

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