A LAWYER WHO helped draft the initiative to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana said critics of the referendum are using decades-old scare tactics to defeat the proposal and twisting proponents’ words to convince voters there’s a heartless pot industry that only wants to cash in at the expense of kids.

“This whole idea that there’s some big tobacco-type industry out there that just wants to set bad policy is just false,” said Boston attorney Adam Fine, who helped draft the marijuana initiative petition. “In the industry, there is no opposition to anything that is in the best interest of public health and public safety.”

At a press conference in front of the State House Thursday morning, elected officials, led by Attorney General Maura Healey, and medical association officials opposed to Question 4, painted a dire picture of what would happen if voters say yes. Healey insisted the initiative has no limits as to how potent legal marijuana can be, a flaw in the law she says will lead to overdoses and health complications for unsuspecting users and, especially, children.

To prove her point, Healey cited an interview that Fine gave to WCVB on Wednesday in which he was asked about potency limits if the measure did pass. Healey claimed Fine said proponents would fight any kind of regulation that diluted the potency of retail pot, which she said showed they are more concerned with the bottom line than public safety.

“What’s proposed [in the ballot question] has no potency limits,” Healey said. “This is an industry that will fight efforts at regulation at every step of the way. In a television interview, a representative of the marijuana industry admitted they would oppose limits on potency on edibles in the state. That is a huge problem and quite remarkable in my view.”

But Healey was not accurate in her portrayal of the interview. In the report, Fine said “there will be potency limits under this initiative,” pointing to the creation of a Cannabis Control Commission that will set regulations for the sale and use of legal marijuana, including how strong a product can be. He was asked in the interview why he thinks there might be opposition to limits, which he said was a hypothetical question to which he gave a hypothetical answer.

“If there’s too many potency limits in place, then the black market will continue to exist,” he told Channel 5 reporter Janet Wu.

Fine, who represents between 10 and 20 medical marijuana operators and applicants, said critics are twisting his words to suggest he or the industry would fight regulations to ensure the products – and children – are safe.

“I was very, very clear the industry is not opposed to any limits,” Fine said. “That [Healey’s assertion] is the exact opposite of what I said. We drafted this law to give complete authority to the Cannabis Control Commission to do their job. It’s a smart initiative that was designed with public safety in mind.”

Joining Healey in denouncing the referendum out of what they say is concern for children were a number of health professionals, including Dr. James Gessner, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Gessner said that marijuana is an addictive drug that can lead kids into harder drugs and exacerbate the opioid crisis.

“Question 4 offers voters a clear choice between public health and safety and the commercialization of a substance that can cause harm,” he said. “We believe that preventing addiction, safeguarding public health and safety, and keeping harmful substances away from children and adolescents are infinitely more important than the sale of a drug for recreational purposes, especially at a time when we face an opioid epidemic that is already destroying too many lives.”

Jim Borghesani said the continued dissemination of what he says is false information belies opponents arguments. He said the control commission is set up just to ensure the products don’t cause ill effects and don’t fall into the hands of kids.

“The CCC has absolute authority over all products,” he said. “This is yet another scare tactic by our opponents.”

4 replies on “Pot proponents hit critics on ‘scare tactics’”

  1. The pro-question 4 side of this argument is absolutely right. The opposition has shown throughout this process that is has no qualms with stooping to any level to oppose this initiative, including but not limited to emotional manipulation and flat-out lies. It is a disgrace how the opposition has chosen to engage the public in this debate, and it smears the name of everyone involved.

  2. I’ve read Question 4 front to back and it definitely allows for all the protections we need. It does not in any way allow for a “wild west” of big cannabis. The opponents to this campaign are lying and misleading more desperately every day as Election Day draws near.

    I am disgusted by the behavior of the opposition to this campaign.

    To mislead voters based on nothing but fear-mongering when important policy decisions need to be made is unconscionable. How can we make the best decisions when all the facts are deliberately hidden by people with their own agenda.

    These are our elected officials and should be presenting true and honest facts that support their position. But that is there problem, there are no good facts that support it so they make up whatever they can to scare people who don’t understand that cannabis is not a deadly drug.

  3. Did AG Maura Healey answer who authorized the raids on 81 year old grandmother Margaret Holcomb for one plant, medical marijuana patient Patty Scutari for , and 81 year old former cancer patient Paul Jackson? She should be embarrassed and ashamed. Yes on 4!

  4. It’s sad (actually, quite sleazy) that they try to tie the opioid issue to this without any evidence, taking advantage of other’s problems in an opportunistic way like this. Especially since the opioid issue is caused primarily by prescription drugs. In fact, more and more people nowadays are using marijuana as a way OUT of hard drugs, rather than the usual course of methadone, etc, that just trades one addiction for another. In any case, the “gateway” is not the drug — the gateway is the street dealer. If people get pot in the streets, then the same street dealer may sell hard drugs and may eventually entice them with those; if people get pot in a marijuana-only store, then they are not exposed to the hard drugs to begin with. Keeping it illegal and in the streets is what causes any gateway effects, so voting “yes” would actually decrease gateway effects.

    While I like Walsh, it was disappointing to see the mayor today state a ridiculous hyperbole about their potentially being 48 places in no time, which isn’t even possible — in reality, there can’t be any shops for quite awhile. Just as a person can’t randomly open a liquor store without first getting a license, no one would be able to open a pot shop without first getting a license either, and the agency to issue licenses won’t even exist for awhile. And even then, the state can just control the number of licenses issued. On top of this, his statement (and the melodramatic anti-pot commercials) ignores the fact that he already signed an “anti-combat zone” law that prohibits any two shops from being within a half-mile radius of each other (which is quite a large area in an urban setting) as well as buffers from schools, playgrounds, and anywhere that children congregate. So it isn’t even possible for there to be shops “all over the place” in Boston:

    What is also silly are those rejecting the proposed initiative simply based on its language not being “perfect” — that’s why we have a legislature that is paid to work and act on things. They can always change the tax rate and close any unforeseen issues starting in January, long before there would be any open shops.

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