Letters | Momentum on Marijuana

Voters have sent message in favor of legalization

A woman smoked at a street party in Seattle this month after a vote in Washington decriminalized marijuana.
A woman smoked at a street party in Seattle this month after a vote in Washington decriminalized marijuana.

Regarding Tom Keane’s insightful column, “Pot problems: Voters are moving toward full legalization — and the government needs to keep up” (Op-ed, Nov. 18), some history is in order.

The Massachusetts Legislature has had before it since 2009 legislation that would end the state’s prohibition that never should have been, and would replace it with constitutional control of cannabis.

The Revenue Committee and the Judiciary Committee held hearings in the 186th session, and the Judiciary Committee dutifully held a hearing in March of this year. In both sessions, the chambers sent the bill to study. Which means that no one is studying it.


Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst) will refile the bill in the upcoming session. Ruth Balser (D-Newton), Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead), and Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) are expected to join her again as sponsors.

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Many others should join them if the success of the nonbinding questions on marijuana policy on the ballot in 2010 and this year are registering with their colleagues.

This year, while voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3, voters in two Senate districts and one House district overwhelmingly approved nonbinding questions proposing constitutional control of cannabis.

In two House districts and the district of Senate minority leader Bruce E. Tarr, voters loudly called upon Congress to repeal the federal prohibition of marijuana, so that the states may regulate it as they choose — a proposition that Ron Paul, Barney Frank, Michael Capuano, and 17 others cosponsored as HR 2306 in the 112th Congress.

The question for Massachusetts’ elected politicians is whether they will act upon the handwriting on the wall.

Steven S. Epstein