As a clinical psychologist and a parent concerned about youth drug abuse, I was initially skeptical about claims to marijuana having medicinal properties. It was not until I experienced a traumatic injury resulting in debilitating nerve damage that I realized marijuana could be uniquely beneficial to patients.


I worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School in 2000, before suffering a devastating injury that left me in severe and constant pain.

I developed allodynia, a condition in which pain is caused by sensations such as light touch and changes in temperature.

The area of sensitivity has increased to encompass my entire right side. Now a gentle breeze across my face is deeply painful; air-conditioning burns; and sitting is often impossible.

I spend most days lying in a waterbed on my left side. I wear multiple layers of stretch clothing covering as much of my right side as possible including a glove, socks, and a cap at all times. My Harvard uniform of an oxford shirt, bow tie and khakis is no longer.


I had access to the best Harvard doctors and researchers, and I used both mainstream and nontraditional approaches, but nothing could sufficiently control my unbearable pain.

I was reluctant to try marijuana as medicine, because it is illegal and I did not want to bring it into my home. However, I was surprised to find after doing my own research how safe and effective marijuana has proven to be for conditions such as nausea, muscle spasticity, inflammation, and pain.



Although medical marijuana does not completely eliminate my pain, it helps me manage it greatly and improves my quality of life. I was able to attend my first open house at my son’s school and now I am able to spend quality time with my daughter when she comes home from college on the weekends.


My wife supports me using marijuana, because it allows me to be a better father. I sat my kids down and explained to them the difference between medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, and they understand why I would not approve of them or their peers using it.

Like most patients I do not smoke marijuana, I vaporize it, which eliminates the carcinogens.


I wouldn’t support Question 3 if it did not include rigorous regulations to prevent abuse of the system. There will be a maximum of 35 treatment centers in the state, with no more than five treatment centers in any one county.

Only patients with a written recommendation from a doctor with whom they have a bona-fide patient-physician relationship will be allowed to receive medical marijuana.

There will also be a centralized database in order to track all patients who receive recommendations and those doctors that write them. The measure adds a new felony for fraudulent use of the program.


This works to ensure that doctors do not write illegitimate recommendations and prevents diversion of medical marijuana to recreational users.


AIDS and cancer support groups, along with patient advocacy groups, favor safe access to medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. For the sake of suffering patients across the commonwealth I hope voters will too.


Peter Hayashi, a resident of Newton, represents the Committee for Compassionate Medicine.


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