West

The Argument

Should voters pass the ballot question in November to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts?

YES

Francy Wade

Needham resident, member of the Yes on 4 Campaign

Francy Wade

I am urging people to vote “Yes” on Question 4 this November because I want to make it harder for minors to gain access to marijuana.

The current system is completely dysfunctional. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of American teens say it would be easy to get their hands on marijuana. As a mother, this disgusts me. Minors are easily obtaining marijuana from drug-pushing criminals, who could be putting anything in their hands.

Legislators have not proposed a solution, but a “Yes” vote on Question 4 would create one. This ballot question would establish a regulatory commission that would set strict standards for packaging, testing, and licensing products and those authorized to sell it. These are all safeguards that don’t exist now.

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Another major reason I am voting “Yes” on Question 4 is to help to slow the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. Finding affordable health care treatments, especially for our veterans and seniors, is difficult. It is currently much easier for people to access highly addictive and destructive painkillers than to access medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is prohibitively expensive and not covered by insurance, and it is also only available in seven locations in the Commonwealth. By legalizing marijuana, we can make it more accessible and more affordable for these patients who want to use medical marijuana to avoid highly addictive prescription painkillers.

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Question 4 will bring in $100 million in estimated annual revenue by 2020 to help cities and towns struggling to meet their costs. It will also put an end to a longstanding social injustice. In Massachusetts, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, a black person is 3.9 times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession than a white person.

Bottom line, voting “Yes” on Question 4 will finally regulate marijuana in Massachusetts and remove market control from drug dealers, putting it in the hands of local authorities and state regulators. It will help ease the opioid crisis, bring in millions of revenue for cities and towns, and end a decades-long social injustice. The choice is clear. Join me in voting “Yes” on Question 4 on Nov. 8.

NO

Hannah Kane

State representative, Shrewsbury Republican

State Representative Hannah Kane

When considering Question 4 this fall, voters will be faced with an essential choice: Do they believe now is the time to allow the billion-dollar marijuana industry into Massachusetts to market and sell their products, including dangerous edibles, to our families?

Massachusetts has already decriminalized possession of marijuana, so this isn’t about people going to jail for possessing it. And we have already made medical marijuana available, so this isn’t about allowing people to access it for health reasons.

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This is about allowing the commercial marijuana industry into our communities. So what does that mean?

It starts with edibles. Question 4 authorizes marijuana edible products like candies, cookies, and soda to be promoted and sold here in Massachusetts. The edibles market is huge, accounting for almost 50 percent of the sales in Colorado, one of the states that has legalized marijuana. These products are highly potent, and highly attractive to kids. Is Question 4 really worth risking the health of our kids?

Question 4 was largely written by the marijuana industry, so it sets no limits beyond the first year on the number of pot shops statewide. In Colorado, that resulted in more pot shops than McDonalds and Starbucks combined.

Question 4 will create a new black market by allowing individuals to grow thousands of dollars of marijuana in their homes, even over the objections of neighbors. In Colorado there is evidence that the marijuana industry has targeted poorer neighborhoods, and we’ve seen racial disparities in arrests widen, particularly among juveniles. A 2016 report in Colorado found that while white juvenile marijuana arrests decreased by 8 percent from 2012 to 2014, black juvenile arrests increased by 58 percent and Latino juvenile arrests by 29 percent.

At a time when we are dealing with an unprecedented addiction crisis, do we want to introduce this new challenge to our families and addiction community?

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Even for those open in principle to legalization, Question 4 represents the wrong model at the wrong time. That is why our coalition opposing Question 4 is broad and bipartisan, including Governor Charles Baker and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

We urge voters to reject the commercial marijuana industry’s proposal and vote “No” on Question 4.

Last week’s argument: Should school districts be given more leeway to offer bilingual education?

Yes: 64 percent (16 votes)

No: 36 percent (9 votes)

As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at laidler@globe.com.