Reading, MA - Bay State Repeal, a ballot-initiative committee dedicated to passing the least restrictive law possible to replace marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts in 2016, notes the Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State recently announced the question numbers of this year's public policy questions as they will appear on district ballots. Among the public policy questions are three concerning what should replace marijuana prohibition after its repeal for which Bay State Repeal volunteers collected the signatures. They will be Question 5, except in Hadley, South Hadley & Swampscott where it will be #6.
The questions that will appear on the ballot in the five districts (4th, 7th and 8th Essex and 3rd and 6th Middlesex House Districts), poll opinion on, "replac[ing] the state's restrictions on marijuana with a law that regulates the cultivation of and commerce in marijuana, by persons over the age of 21, in the same manner as laws that apply to the cultivation and sale of fruits, vegetables and herbs."
In the 2nd Hampshire House District, the synonymous "replac[ing] the state's restrictions on marijuana with a law that regulates the cultivation of and commerce in marijuana, by persons over the age of 21, in the same manner as laws that apply to retail and agricultural businesses" (Words in italics changed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Attorney General from 'prohibition of").
All stipulate that, "such a law would (i) require persons covered by the law to take steps to prevent access to growing plants and marijuana by minors under the age of 18, (ii) punish distribution among and to such minors, (iii) retain for minors the civil offense of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, and (iv) make no change to existing laws regarding driving while under the influence" (Words in italics inserted by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Attorney General despite the clear intention of the first paragraph that in context minor meant person under 21 years of age).
Since 2000, sixty-nine public policy questions concerning marijuana policy appeared on ballots around the state. Every one approved by the voters and ignored by their elected representatives on Beacon Hill, where the influence of lobbyists and donors appears more important than the majority opinion of their constituents. These questions predicted as early as 2000 that Massachusetts voters would support decriminalizing possession, as they did in 2008 and the 2012 initiative for the medical use of marijuana.
"Bay State Repeal is aware that others wish to mimic Colorado and Washington and regulate and tax like alcohol", said Committee member Terry Franklin of Amherst, "these initiatives resulted in overly burdensome rules, excessive costs to businesses and consumers to support bureaucrats and present grave danger of political collusion and monopolistic practices. Our objective is to nip such restrictiveness in the bud."
Attorney Steven Epstein added, "Treating it as if it were like that extremely dangerous substance ignores the fact that marijuana consumption is much safer. What we at Bay State Repeal want is the least restrictive plan for marijuana law reform focused on preventing non-medical distribution to those under 21."
Attorney Steven Epstein emphasized that, "Treating marijuana like the herb it is with the restrictions described in our public policy questions restores the plant and all its products to the legal status it held before the madness began early last century."
The 4th Essex District consists of Hamilton; Ipswich; Manchester-by-the-Sea; Rowley; Topsfield & Wenham, the incumbent Brad Hill (R) is running unopposed.
The 7th Essex consists of Salem, an open seat being contested by Paul tucker (D) and Daniel Morris (Libertarian)
The 7th Essex District consists of Lynn's Ward 3, Precinct 4 and Ward 4 Precinct 4, Marblehead & Swampscott, the incumbent Lori Ehrlich (D) is running unopposed.
The 2nd Hampshire District consists of Easthampton; Granby: Precinct 2; Hadley & South Hadley the incumbent John W. Scibak (D) is running unopposed.
The 3rd Middlesex District consists of Hudson; Maynard; Stow; Bolton, the incumbent Kate Hogan (D) is being challenged by Paddy Dolan (R)
The 6th Middlesex District consists of Framingham: Precincts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15., the incumbent Chris Walsh (D) is being challenged by Michael J. Coombes (Liberty)
Source: Bay State Repeal