As I've written many times here, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is prime political territory for a modern reefer madness scourge.
This is especially true since the death of a state trooper who was hit on the road by a driver who had recently made a legal purchase at a medical marijuana dispensary. Not surprisingly, the organized campaign against an upcoming November ballot question that would legalize recreational use and tax cannabis like alcohol has poured gasoline on the narrative that "commercial" weed is bad for the Bay State.
The assault against cannabis is coming from all angles. In the media, where prohibitionist politicians like Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are parroted without having demonstrably false statements corrected. In the courts, where there have been two lawsuits filed by marijuana opponents to stop the ballot initiative. And now in your doctor's office, as state officials are railroading physicians who prescribe cannabis.
Access to medical professionals who are authorized to write "recommendations," as permission is called in Mass, is a major issue of contention in several states with medical cannabis programs.
In New York, where activists have gradually, successfully weakened a notoriously prohibitive medical system, the state assembly recently passed legislation that will allow specially certified physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe cannabis.
Medical professionals finding it hard to recommend cannabis
In Massachusetts, despite voters having approved medical cannabis in a ballot initiative in 2012, there is still apparently no official protocol. Which is what led to Dr. John Nadolny, M.D., medical director of Canna Care Docs, having his license suspended last month. (Full disclosure: Canna Care Docs is a sponsor of my streaming radio show, The Young Jurks, and Nadolny wrote me my recommendation for medical marijuana.)
Outlets, including the Boston Globe, reported that Nadolny was suspended for violations including "failing to diagnose patients with a debilitating medical condition as required by law and delegating to nurse practitioners the authority to make such diagnoses." Which was strange, since the law states that Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNPs) are allowed to recommend medical marijuana. To quote the Mass General Laws: "CNPs are authorized to issue written certifications of marijuana for medical use as provided pursuant to the mutually agreed upon guidelines between the NP and the physician supervising the CNP's prescriptive practice."
Last year, cannabis doctors in the state and fellow activists with whom I have spoken say they believed the Medical Use of Marijuana Program was working with stakeholders. But that has since changed ever since Governor Charlie Baker started publicly campaigning against the November legalization initiative.
As the DPH obstructively did not yet allow CNPs to register their legal recommendations, it appears that Dr. Nadolny sent them in under his ID (Canna Care spokespeople are unwilling to speak on the record at this time). Basically, for trying to comply and disclose, and for his attempt to help patients in the face of the state's non-functioning protocol for nurse practitioners, Nadolny's license was suspended.
Legalization opponents join forces
Most local coverage of the doc's suspension prominently noted the death of the aforementioned state trooper. For example, our local Fox affiliate reported that "Massachusetts is investigating a group of medical marijuana clinics tied to a pot patient who prosecutors said plowed into and killed a state trooper on the Massachusetts Turnpike in March."
So where is this conflation coming from? Well, the opponents to legalization are banding together from many different quarters - from healthcare and addiction specialists, to profiteers from another enduring industry, law enforcement and prosecution.
For one, look at Dr. Robert Dupont. He's a big time guy in medicine today, a kingpin - a national figure who now has a local legion of proteges parroting all the same non-evidence based junk science for their own ends. His Institute for Behavior and Health works with people like Heidi Heilman of the Mass Preventional Alliance, which profits from selling anti-marijuana materials.
All of them recently signed on as plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits attempting to toss the November legal ballot initiative. Dupont has a deep War on Drugs pedigree, having served as the Director of the Narcotics Treatment Administration under President Richard Nixon. This is one of the central characters driving the prohibitionist side of the debate in Mass. A Nixon crony! More recently, Dupont has graduated to profiting off drug-testing and anti-drug consulting for large companies through his namesake affiliation with the Chicago-based Bensinger, DuPont & Associates.
Some opponents blame marijuana for marathon bombings
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Then there is Dr. Steven Adelman, a protege of Dupont who once notoriously blamed the bombing of the Boston Marathon on marijuana withdrawal. Dupont felt similarly: "What if Jahar had been required to take drug tests to obtain and maintain a driver's license? Might he have changed his behavior if faced with real and immediate certain consequences for his drug use?" he wrote in May of 2013.
I called Senator Jason Lewis, who is a plaintiff alongside Dupont against the pending legalization initiative, requesting comment on Dupont's history, specifically regarding his marijuana marathon remarks. "I find the statement distasteful," Lewis said by phone. "I'm against the initiative because of the deep dive I did on this. I'm not opposed to legalization but not for commercial use."
Meanwhile, Mass Gov. Charlie Baker is publicly asking for "reforms" to be made. What reforms, you ask? Testing. Yep, Baker wants to establish marijuana testing for drivers.
Score one for Dupont.
Mike Crawford is a medical marijuana patient, the host of The Young Jurks on WEMF Radio, and the author of the weekly column The Tokin' Truth, which is produced in coordination with the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.