According to the NORML website, www.norml.org, Massachusetts has the highest average price for an ounce of marijuana in the US, approximately $325. an ounce. Why are our marijuana prices so high?

Currently, if caught with up to an ounce of marijuana in this state, you are subjected to up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500.00. This is roughly in the middle of the scale when it comes to state prohibition fines.

$500. is five times the amount fined if you were caught in Colorado or California where there is no jail time involved at all and up to $100. fine is imposed. It could be worse. In Texas you could be fined $2,000. and face up to 6 months in jail.

Recently a bill was filed in the State Senate, "an act to impose a civil fine for the possession of marijuana," S.207. Passage of this bill would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil violation subjected to to a civil assessment of $100. and would eliminate the authority of police to physically arrest a person 17 years or younger for possession of marijuana. Perhaps, then street prices would drop. Dealers, please, drop your prices, our communities should not have to choose between obtaining medicine and eating. We must make medicine affordable and available in our communities.

The Edward O. Hawking and Thomas C. Salter Medical Marijuana Act went into effect on January 3, 2006 in Rhode Island. The Act removes state level penalties. Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection: cachexia, cancer, glaucoma, hepatitis C, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, epilepsy, muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease.

The Massachusetts Legislature passed two pieces of legislation in the 1990s recognizing the therapeutic value of marijuana and permitting its use for medicine in limited situations. However, this legislation also established the federal government as the designated agency for the distribution of marijuana into the state health care system. The federal government has refused to play this role, with the result that care givers recommending marijuana and patients possessing [it] remain vulnerable to arrest.

On March 1, a committee of the State Legislature squashed H.2742, which would have made medical marijuana closer to a reality in Massachusetts . We will keep working on it!