Broadside: Is Mass. Next to Legalize Weed?

(NECN) - Should the legalization of marijuana happen in Massachusetts?

Bertha K. Madras, currently at Harvard Medical School, is President George W. Bush's former Deputy Director for Demand Reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Madras says legalization is a bad idea because it would affect the public health.

"Marijuana is not a safe drug in terms of public health and by legalizing marijuana, we are going to increase and compound our public health problems," she said.

Broadside host Jim Braude counters that studies haven't shown a clear impairment caused by marijuana use. Madras says evidence from the past 20 years has shown that adolescents who start smoking marijuana have a greater likelihood than adults to be addicted in the long term.

Braude wondered if it would be better to have marijuana legalized in order to keep it out of the hands of teens.

"If you have the state involved in that process, take a look at medical marijuana, which is supposed to be squeakier cleaner than just ordinary marijuana sold, and if you look at the products that are on sale in dispensaries in the 21 states that have legalized, the District of Columbia, there is no regulation at all of marijuana. Anyone can sell whatever they want, they can call it a treatment for this disease or that disease, there's no product liability," Madras said.

Braude countered that the 21 states would disagree with her stance that there is no regulation.

The Broadside host also brought up the damaging effects of alcohol - and how prohibition did little to stop it.

"Alcohol is bad, marijuana is bad, they both are. You can't say a side-by-side comparison, well, alcohol causes cirrhosis and marijuana doesn't," Madras said. "The real issue is not to compare drugs. Drugs that are psychoactive, that affect the brain, that affect the developing brain, that can affect your cognitive abilities, that can lower your IQ, that's associated with psychosis, these things all we're adding is a third plague. We have a legal plague of alcohol, we have a legal plague with tobacco, we're going to add another plague."

Watch the attached video for the complete debate.

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