As seems to be the norm with the Judiciary Committee, the room was too small and the number of bills (fifty five!) too many to truly allow the democratic process to proceed. I was there to testify on behalf of MFI against the proposed doctor-prescribed suicide bill, while Maureen Vacca, our director of public policy, testified in opposition to the legalization of marijuana.
One of the most upsetting things that occurred at this hearing was that some 15 marijuana activists were allowed to testify before a single anti-drug proponent was given the opportunity. Many of these opponents to marijuana were soccer moms and parents that had to get home to their children and families, and because of the way the hearing was run, they never had a chance to speak. That is a travesty and our elected officials at the State House should do better.
Since the majority of those who got to testify were there to ask the Legislature to legalize marijuana – so they can simply go to the package store and pick up a bag – let me hit on a few of the main points that Maureen made in her testimony against the bill. And she wasn’t even able to give it until 8:00 p.m., seven hours after the hearing began!
Simply put, HB 1371 would legalize marijuana at the expense of our children and public safety. “It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to … impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers,” she told the Committee. She reminded legislators that today’s marijuana is far more potent than what was available in the 1970s.
The basic rule with any drug is if the drug becomes more available in society, there will be more use of the drug. Marijuana, among all age groups, was the second most common illicit drug responsible for treatment admission in 2008, behind only opioids. And for those who say that marijuana is not a “gateway” drug, teenagers who experiment with it are 26 times likelier than other teens to use another drug.
CLICK HERE to read Maureen’s full testimony.
With doctor-prescribed death heading to the ballot in November, it is unlikely that the Legislature will chose to touch this hot issue this year. However, MFI used the hearing as an opportunity to educate legislators and the public on this dangerous precedent-setting issue.
Deliberately ending a human life as one would a suffering animal is utilitarian and degrading, contrary to the special dignity and unique value of every human being recognized in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. The medical reality is that doctors still cannot predict who’s going to die when, with the AMA Journal recently reporting that lifespan forecasts have a 30% error rate.
I have stated in previous messages to you that physician assisted suicide invites all types of abuse, especially given the financial incentive for premature deaths. Pressure and coercion could be brought upon the individual by those who stand to gain, particularly government-controlled healthcare. This bill, or the identical ballot question, would blur the line between natural death and medical manslaughter, something we cannot allow in Massachusetts.
CLICK HERE to read my full testimony.
Both of these bills will remain before the Judiciary Committee until members decide to allow them to die there or pass them on to the full House and Senate for debate. MFI strongly opposes these bills, HB 1371, HB2233 and HB 3884. PLEASE call the Judiciary Committee and urge them to give the bills a negative report:
House: (617) 722-2396
Senate: (617) 722-1639
If you have not already sent an email to your legislators on these bills, be sure to CLICK HERE to send your message today. Thank you.
For those of you who weren’t able to join us live on Tuesday night, we had the author of the MFI Book Club selection Live