The results of a new citizen review panel on Ballot Question 4 are in, and they are: There are pros and cons to legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts.
The Citizens' Initiative Review advisory board did not to provide a "yes" or " no" endorsement of Question 4, which asks voters to approve or reject a 25-page "Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act." But rather, the 20-person board was designed to help voters better understand at least one of the issues that will appear before them in the voting booth come November.
And so, after four days of testimony from campaigns for and against Question 4, as well as five neutral experts, the panel this week released a statement of key findings and pros and cons. The most important of the five findings, according to the statement, is that Question 4 provides cities and towns "significant control" over legalization, protects businesses and landlords, and prohibits consumption in public. Full results can be found at http://www.cirmass2016.org.
The advisory board is part of a pilot project initiated last year by state Representative Jonathan Hecht of Watertown, in partnership with Tufts University's Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life and Healthy Democracy, and modeled after a similar program in Oregon.
A group of 20 voters were selected from a pool of 10,000 randomly selected Massachusetts residents to serve on the review panel. (Each was paid $400 to participate.) The diverse, bipartisan panel included voters from every congressional district in the state. The oldest member of the group was 91; the youngest was 21.