Warning that it will increase access to marijuana for teens, the Massachusetts Medical Society and 10 statewide physician specialty groups on Tuesday formally declared their opposition to Question 4, which would legalize marijuana use for those 21 and older.
"The ballot question 4 on recreational marijuana lacks any consideration for the public health of the citizens of the Commonwealth, especially our young people," James Gessner, president of the doctors group, said in a statement. "Physicians believe that its approval would simply be a big step backward for public health and safety in our state."
Gessner cited addiction risks, cognitive impairment, damaging effects on adolescent brain development, and threats to highway and occupational safety. Medical experts said they are especially concerned about widespread availability of marijuana edibles in the form of cookies, candies and snack foods, that they said would be appealing to children.
"We know that marijuana harms the health and development of children and adolescents. Making it more available to adults, regardless of restrictions, increases access for teenagers and persuades them that marijuana is not dangerous," Michael McManus, immediate past president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement.
The Yes on 4 Campaign on Monday began airing a TV ad in which Merrimack College associate professor and former Boston Police Lieutenant Tom Nolan touts the potential for new tax revenues from legalized marijuana and says, "I was a Boston PD cop and now, as a professor, I believe Yes on 4 is a smart choice to protect families. Let me explain. Question 4 requires strict product labeling and childproof packaging and bans advertising directed at kids. And Question 4 bans consuming marijuana in public."