Massachusetts voters are among those in five states (along with Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada) who will vote on Election Day, November 8, whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana.
By voting “yes” on ballot Question 4, voters would allow “persons 21 and older to possess, use, and transfer marijuana and products containing marijuana concentrate (including edible products) and to cultivate marijuana, all in limited amounts, and would provide for the regulation and taxation of commercial sale of marijuana and marijuana products.”
A “no” vote would leave the current laws regarding marijuana unchanged. (The state legalized medical marijuana use in 2012 and decriminalized possession of the drug eight years ago.)
Not surprisingly, the ballot initiative is controversial, with critics asserting that marijuana is a gateway drug and that legalizing recreational use could lead to an increase in people becoming addicted to more serious drugs and draw attention away from the state’s efforts to contain the deadly opioid epidemic. They also argue that too little is known about marijuana’s effect on the brain, particularly for young users. Among those urging voters to say “no” to legalizing the drug are the Massachusetts Medical Society, Republican Charlie Baker, Massachusetts governor, and Democrat Marty Walsh, Boston mayor.
Supporters of the initiative say that prohibition of marijuana has failed to keep it out of the hands of young people, and that its continuing criminalization costs law enforcement and society millions of dollars every year. They argue that it’s time to end prohibition and replace it with a taxed and regulated system that would control the sale and use of the drug in the commonwealth.
If Question 4 passes, Massachusetts adults 21 and older could possess an ounce of dried weed or five grams of concentrate in public (you could have up to another nine ounces at home, but it would have to be locked up, literally). Residents would be allowed to grow as many as 6 plants at home, with a limit of 12 per household. And it could be grown outdoors for personal or commercial use, but would have to be planted where the public couldn’t see it. And it couldn’t be smoked or consumed in stores or public places.
This week’s “YouSpeak” asks: “Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Massachusetts?”