A new poll shows Massachusetts voters favor legalizing medical marijuana by a 57-31 percent margin, but local candidates for the state Legislature are a lot more cautious about the proposal.
The candidates for the Massachusetts House said they need more information before taking a definitive stand on the referendum question that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
If passed, Question 3 would allow patients with a “debilitating medical condition” such as cancer or HIV to possess up to 60 days worth of marijuana for their personal consumption with the permission of a doctor.
A Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday found overwhelming public support for the measure, but the candidates, including incumbents, said they are not ready to fully endorse the measure.
State Rep. George Ross, R-Attleboro, said he did not want to take a strong stand because he did not want to influence voters.
However, he said he considers marijuana to be a “gateway drug” that leads to use of stronger substances, making it a public safety issue.
“I would defer to the feelings of public safety and law enforcement, and they are against it,” he said.
Ross’s Democratic opponent, Paul Heroux of Attleboro, said he needs to research the issue further, but as the son of two pharmacists, he is leaning against it.
He said passage of the provision could lead to abuse of marijuana, and it has been proven that smoking any substance is unhealthy for the lungs.
Heroux said he wants to know if the active ingredients in marijuana that help with pain and side effects of treatments for cancer and other illnesses can be put into a pill instead of having patients smoke.
In the state representative race in the Seekonk-Rehoboth area, state Rep. Steve Howitt, R-Seekonk, also said he does not have a firm position yet.
He said relatives in his family suffered from cancer and the side effects of treatments so he is sensitive to the desire to help those afflicted by serious diseases. But, the Massachusetts provision could be in conflict with federal law, he said.
“I haven’t come to a final decision yet,” he said.
His Democratic opponent, Keith Carreiro of Swansea, was the one exception to the reluctance to take a firm stand.
Carreiro’s campaign manager Andrew McLeod said Carreiro is in favor of the ballot measure.
“There is no question he supports medical marijuana,” McLeod said of Carreiro.