Preparatory to Bedford’s annual Town Meeting, I attended the Planning Board and Selectmen meetings and was appalled at the lack of education on Cannabis. I heard scaremongering among people who only researched the issue in the previous 24 hours. This is not good for democracy or for logical thinking. You cannot think straight if you are frightened. Herein this letter, I will summarize my years of research with footnotes.

First point – Prohibition of a profoundly important and safe health supplement will not work and has not worked. We heard in testimony that students already smoke cannabis and others will tell you kids have smoked since 1960s. Kids know this is a safe way to be rebellious, knowing that cannabis is safer than aspirin, yet will get adults frothing at the mouth. We in Bedford think prohibition works because no one gets arrested here. Our children do not get arrested. All the arrests have been redlined to the minority communities of Boston (data by Massachusetts ACLU).

Gummy bears falling out of purses is so low on the scale of risks that it doesn’t even make the list. Children are generally taught not to pick stuff up off the ground and put it in their mouths because of germs. Any child who has eaten a cannabis-infused edible has suffered no lasting consequences – after all, children who have nursed have consumed endogenous cannabinoids found in their mother’s milk. (More discussion about the Endocannabinoid Regulatory System and reference links see below.)

The second point brought up at the meetings was citing the Rocky Mountain High Intensity report from Colorado and the Massachusetts’ senators visit there to meet with them. The Rocky Mountain High Intensity report is not a scientifically sound report, but one written with considerable self-interest by law enforcement – many police will be laid off when they no longer are mandated to break into homes, shooting SWAT style. The other reason this report is to be ignored is the Separation of Powers – a concept in our Constitution that said the three branches of government, Legislative, Judicial, and Executive (that includes the police) should not interfere in each other’s business. The Legislative process includes our testimony, the courts then decide if the proposed law is constitutional, and the police enforce the law. The police do not make law, we are not living in a police state.

Additionally, Senator Jason Lewis, who headed the Senator’s trip to CO, has since changed his mind, upon receipt of additional information, data, and visits to constituents’ home grows. He is not afraid of cannabis, is in support of home-grows (like fermenting your own beer) and local co-ops (micro-grows, like micro-breweries) as a means of warding off Big Corporative and Franchise businesses, and keeping economies local.

Second point – I doubt recreational dispensaries will be interested in Bedford. This is a bedroom community with rush-hour traffic, where half the residents are in school and the other half have to maintain federal security clearances. There are no recreational areas in town; no theater district, no artists’ quarter, not even a movie house or bowling alley. We can barely keep a swimming hole going. Even in the industrial district, there are a few restaurants, but their business is during work hours and their customers have federal security issues.

However, there are businesses that Bedford should welcome and send out RFPs for, such as testing facilities and research facilities. Discerning cannabis businesses, reinforced by the law just passed, will want to have their products tested for purity and for a profile of the medicinal components, known as cannabinoids and terpenes, to be listed on their products’ labels.

Research facilities promise to be a very important business going forward. Western cannabinoid medicine is relatively new – interest was sparked in the ’60s when hippies were getting high – here is a substance that passes the blood-brain barrier and could be a mode of delivering medicine to the brain. More research shows that cannabis IS the medicine for the brain. Data will show that when cannabis is returned to the Pharmacopoeia, diseases of the brain will drop precipitously. Cannabis is a preventative to MS, Parkinsons, Huntingtons, Alzheimers, epilepsy, and now researching autism. Cannabis turns off chronic diseases such as PTSD, inflammation, and cancer (a chronic cell replication.) https://mgretailer.com/medical-cannabis-research-in-israel-shows-promise-for-autism-patients/

More research and scanned pages from the Cannabis entry in the US Pharmacopoeia can be found here; http://antiquecannabisbook.com. Note that Director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger forced the editors to remove cannabis from this encyclopedia of how to make medicine. Cannabis had been an entry for 100 years.

Humankind has known how to make medicine with cannabis for millennia, beginning in China 5000 years ago. The world’s first Materia Medica was written on newly invented hemp paper and listed Ma (cannabis) as one of the 50 most holy herbs, and that it treats epilepsy and is a general tonic. We are reinventing the wheel. https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.timeline.php?timelineID=000026#2900-bc-1599-ad

The research on endogenous (made naturally by our own body) cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid Regulatory System is so new and so overwhelming that research journals have devoted entire issues to the emerging medicine. (Note that the cannabis plant contains phytocannabinoids, or plant-based, a natural bio-compatible supplement.) And note that all 15 articles in this issue are only on the nervous system; http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1607/  Here is a link to Cancer.gov and their section on cannabis and cancer – https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq#section/all  And a link to the beginnings of research on cannabis and autism; http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/cannabis-for-autism-in-israel/

Cannabis used in conjunction with opioids will reduce opioid use, and thus one’s chances of dying from an opioid overdose. Here is a link with quote from Harvard Medical trained doctor http://hoosierveteransformedicalcannabis.org/2017/08/23/forum-with-va-staff-13-september-2017/

Keep in mind, quite a bit of research on the safety of cannabis was done before the internet, and their papers were in obscure libraries. These early studies include the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, 1894, Panama Canal Zone Report of 1925, the Siler Commission, Panama Canal Zone Report 1930, the LaGuardia Commission Report 1944, and Nixon’s own “Marijuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding: The Shafer Report 1972” that returned a finding of safety and a recommendation to drop the prohibition. Nixon instead, out of vindictiveness, decided to wage the War On Drugs, which ended up to be a war on the black and Latino communities, as documented above by the ACLU in Boston, 2014. To research the racist foundations of prohibition, do a search of Director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics “Harry Anslinger quotes” and search “Nixon Ehrlichman Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Yes, we did.”

Here is an article saying Colorado has the lowest unemployment in the country. http://uspainclinic.com/2017/10/06/three-years-after-legalizing-pot-colorado-has-the-lowest-unemployment-rate-in-america/

Spurning anticipated tax revenue is short-sighted – money is already being spent on cannabis. While prohibition is in effect, all that money goes to cartels that use violence to settle disputes. Legalizing will put cartels out of business, the industry will be regulated, disputes settled in the courts, and finances handled by banks.

This is the message for children; in a civilized democratic society, we study things carefully and weigh the pros and cons.  After much study, we find there is no honor in upholding prohibition.

Kathryn Rifkin

Meadowbrook Road