Medical Marijuana – Yes or No?

Drs. Sabet and Miron will speak about this Fall’s Ballot Question 3 – Medical Marijuana – Yay or Nay on Medical Marijuana — the issue before voters in November. This was an opportunity to discuss what many have been unwilling to address, an effective medical marijuana law. The Secretary of State announced in July that an initiative to allow medical marijuana in Massachusetts has been approved and will appear on the November ballot. The initiative would allow qualifying patients to use and purchase marijuana “produced and distributed by new state-regulated centers or… to grow marijuana for their own use.

Drs. Sabet and Miron will each have 30 minuets to discuss their respective views on the issue followed by a civil Q&A as the audienance engages the speakers with their questions.

Dr. Sabet (Nay) says “Medical marijuana is certainly a complex issue. No one wants to see their loved ones suffer needlessly, and there is a good case to be made that federal law enforcement should focus their limited resources on major drug producers and distributors. Unfortunately, however, the issue of medical marijuana goes beyond simple compassion. Medicines in the United States are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), not a popular vote. So it is troubling that some states have decided to bypass that system in favor of one that is manipulated by political agendas.

Dr. Miron’s (Yay) perspective – Over the past several decades, numerous states have decriminalized or medicalized, and many others are considering full legalization. The situation is similar across Europe and several Latin American countries as well.  Dr. Miron does not take an position on the medicinal value of marijuana; that should be a question for medical professionals.  But, he argues that from an consequential perspective, it is difficult to defend a ban on medical marijuana or recreational marijuana; both should be legal.  Standard economic reasoning shows that drug prohibition is likely to cause numerous undesirable consequences and is almost certainly inferior to alternative policies for addressing the social costs created by drug use.  This talk will present the economic arguments for drug legalization – both medical and recreational – and discuss the evidence pertaining to this analysis as well.   An important theme will be that that even if drug consumption is undesirable – in the sense that consumption causes harm to innocent third parties – prohibition is probably the worst possible approach for addressing these harms.