By Seth Daniel
The Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS), under the leadership of Chelsea Supt. Mary Bourque, has come out against the Question 4 statewide ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Bourque told the Record that MASS has issued a position statement that if firmly against the question, saying that previous ballot questions softening laws on marijuana have only confused school children.
“MASS feels strongly that even with firm safeguards in place, expanded access to medical marijuana coupled with the 2008 decriminalization of possession of small amounts of this drug in Massachusetts has increased accessibility for youth and contributed to the growing perception among them that marijuana is safe to consume,” read the statement. “As a result, schools across the Commonwealth are grappling with a new reality: students have embraced the notion that the use of marijuana is safe and legal, and therefore, they now demonstrate little regard for school policies.”
The statement indicates that the organization has not been encouraged by the implementation of medical marijuana, and that too many questions remain unanswered for children and young adults. That is why the position statement was unanimous among the membership.
“Our membership believes that allowing home cultivation and recreational sales of marijuana throughout the state is reckless, irresponsible and dangerous to both children and adults,” read the statement. “The reasons for such galvanized disapproval of this initiative petition are as varied as they are numerous.”
One main reason relates to health problems and the arrested development of the brain when introduced to substances like marijuana.
“Independent scientific studies have credibly demonstrated a frightening correlation between regular marijuana use and severe mental health issues,” read the statement. “Even an untrained eye can see differences between the MRI brain images of those who habitually use marijuana and those who don’t. Superintendents have seen a significant increase in the numbers of students in school who require extensive social, emotional, behavioral and mental health related interventions. Expanding a child’s access to marijuana will only serve to exacerbate and accelerate these problems.”
The statement ended with the conclusion that MASS believes marijuana is addictive and leads to serious health and brain development risks when used by young people.
“A vote in support of this petition would allow irresponsible people to profit at the expense of our children’s health, safety and educational success,” read the statement. “This cannot happen.”