Following three days of presentations and testimony a group of voters from around the state have put together a statement to help voters navigate Question 4, the ballot measure that, if passed, would legalize the sale of marijuana in Massachusetts.
The group of 20 voters, who are from a range of areas, backgrounds and ages, met in Watertown as part of the Massachusetts Citizens’ Initiative Review pilot program. State Rep. Jonathan Hecht was one of the people spearheading the effort, which also was lead by Tufts University’s Tisch School of Civic Life, as well as, Healthy Democracy, a group that started the CIR process in the state of Oregon.
Last week, the voters heard from proponents and opponents of the ballot measure, along with five neutral experts in fields relevant to marijuana legalization, including health, finance, the law and people from states where marijuana has been legalized.
The created a statement that, if the CIR process is adopted by the Massachusetts Legislature, would be included in the voter information pamphlet sent out by the Secretary of State’s office.
“I’m grateful to all the participants and facilitators who contributed to making these deliberations so successful,” said State Rep. Hecht. “It’s been especially exciting to see the citizen panelists’ enthusiasm for this voter-centered process. We look forward to seeing whether the voters at large find their fellow citizens’ statement useful in making up their own minds on Question 4.”
Here is the statement:
The following findings are ranked in order of importance as determined by the citizen panel, from most to least important:
Question 4 provides significant control to city and town authorities by allowing safeguards on the operations of marijuana establishments. It protects business and landlord rights and it prohibits marijuana consumption in public areas.
Question 4’s taxed and regulated system is modeled after the State’s system for alcohol regulation. It replicates a system that is already working well in the State. The proposed system would be controlled, transparent and accountable.
Question 4 allows people to grow a limited number of marijuana plants in his or her home under lock and key for personal use. Sale of homegrown marijuana is still illegal.
Replacing the current marijuana policy in Massachusetts with a regulated and taxed system allows limited legal possession to persons 21 and over.
Legalization would prohibit marketing and branding toward children, as with alcohol and tobacco.
Statement in Support of Question 4
The citizen panel considers these to be the strongest reasons for supporting Question 4:
- Legalized and regulated marijuana is safer than black market marijuana because the legalized product will be tested and clearly labeled according to state regulations.
- Question 4 will create a large number of regulatory, law enforcement, legal, and licensure jobs that are supported by taxes on the sale of marijuana.
- Question 4 would give patients and health providers ready access to marijuana without committing a crime. Legalization could help people avoid opiates, addiction and worse problems.
Question 4 legalizes recreational marijuana in the Commonwealth, creating new jobs and adding to the Massachusetts economy. This initiative includes measures for economic sustainability, regulatory responsibility and ensures access to safe products.
Safety, responsibility, justice, fairness and freedom are the basic values at stake in this matter.
Statement in Opposition to Question 4
The citizen panel considers these to be the strongest reasons for opposing Question 4:
- According to the executive director of marijuana policy for Denver, after legalization, the black market continues to thrive and change.
- Although in development, at this time there is no definitive method of testing for impaired drivers.
- There is conflicting evidence of an increase in teen use or motor vehicle accidents in states that have legalized recreational use.
Question 4 will create a large number of regulatory, law enforcement, legal, and licensure jobs that are supported by taxes on the sale of marijuana. This referendum proposes a questionable means of legalizing recreational marijuana. There is a lack of transparency as many regulatory policies and procedures will not be defined until after the passage of the referendum. The long-term effects of recreational marijuana use on society, not fully understood, present a threat to our communities and roadways. There is a lack of credible evidence regarding the financial stability and economic gains. The many unknowns in this referendum make it difficult to support Question 4 at this time.
Safety, responsibility, and public health and welfare are the core values at stake in this matter.