Two incidents within the past month involving the growing of marijuana in homes are good examples of why law enforcement officials have had good reason to be more than skeptical about the new medical marijuana law in Massachusetts. Both cases, one in June and one last week, involve the discovery of large amounts of marijuana being grown in homes. In both cases it was claimed that the marijuana was being grown for medicinal purposes. In both cases law enforcement officials are doubtful, and with good reason. In June state police discovered marijuana plants while searching for cocaine—which they found but only in a small quantity. Last week Falmouth police had responded to a breaking and entering when they found marijuana plants. The intruders had stolen $4,000 in cash.
Cocaine, even a small amount, and large amounts of cash are unlikely pairings with medical marijuana. Yet the resident involved in last week’s incident was able to produce documentation that purportedly allowed him to grow marijuana.
It might be that homegrown marijuana has been a cottage industry on the Cape for a long time but until recently, to do so was a serious crime. Possession of 20 or 30 plants was considered intent to distribute and could land a person in jail. Get a prescription for medical marijuana today and the same operation is now legal.
The argument over whether using marijuana is safe and whether it should be legalized has been ongoing and will likely go on for some time. But these two recent events raise another issue altogether, which is that marijuana grown in homes, legal or not, is a lightning rod for crime.
Falmouth Police Chief Edward Dunne put it bluntly: “Crime will increase because bad guys will break into these homes and get what they want.”
Blunt, yes, but blunt is called for here. Chief Dunne is pointing to what is clearly a serious flaw in the law.
The intent, of course, is that a person who would benefit from use of marijuana should not be deprived of that benefit because the permitting authorities are too slow or reluctant to allow a marijuana dispensary in their area. That was the case when the state decided to void Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts’ permit to open a dispensary in Mashpee. With no dispensary nearby, those who need medical marijuana have no choice but to grow their own. That’s the story, anyway.
Mr. Delahunt and Mary LeClair, board members of Medical Marijuana of Massachusetts, are not supporters of legalizing marijuana, not in the least. Their logic of opening a dispensary in Mashpee was that, if medical marijuana is legalized, it must be controlled.
Recent events in Falmouth are proving them right.