Taxpayers, employers hooked
State “medical” marijuana laws — including those proposed by Question 3 — are designed to circumvent the federal process and place states, municipalities and business owners in positions that will be costly to litigate.
There will be litigation, rest assured — and Massachusetts taxpayers and employers will bear the cost.
How the system works
Federal drug policy is determined and implemented by a network of federal agencies thoughtfully created to work in a coordinated fashion.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the agency that determines the safety and efficacy of all drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) researches and disseminates scientific information concerning prevention and treatment of drug abuse and addiction, which serves as the basis for national drug policy. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) annually prepares a National Drug Control Strategy to reduce illicit drug use and expand substance abuse treatment. Other federal partners in the Strategy include the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education. States rely upon the work of these agencies, as well as others, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), to set policies and guidelines concerning drugs and their effects on communities and individuals. States do not have the knowledge, agencies, or resources to perform those functions.
Why Question 3 doesn’t work
It is reckless and presumptuous for any state agency to flout the policies and guidelines of this network of federal agencies. And don’t forget: federal law supersedes state law. Consider:
- A district court judge in Arapahoe County, Colorado, recently ruled that Colorado’s entire medical-marijuana law is invalid because it is superseded by federal law.
- Arizona’s attorney general also invalidated much of that state’s medical marijuana law for the same reason.
- In the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 25 ruling striking down much of Arizona’s immigration law, Justice Anthony Kennedy, included this in his opinion for the majority: “…the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”
A real headache for employers
If Massachusetts approves Question 3, employers should brace themselves for incredibly costly bills to cover the legal showdowns that undoubtedly will erupt when on-the-job accidents and marijuana-related problems happen. Employees asserting rights to take their “medicine” will not necessarily leave their jobs without a fight.
Massachusetts should spend its money elsewhere. Vote No on Question 3.