Two of the three Massachusetts ballot questions – the “Right to Repair” and medical marijuana ballot initiatives – passed last night and will become law.
The physician-assisted suicide ballot question was too close to call at the time of publication, with a 40,000 difference between yes and no votes as of 2:30 a.m.
The medical marijuana initiative passed with 63 percent of the vote, winning a majority of votes in all but two Bay State towns. Massachusetts ballot question 1, “Right to Repair,” passed with 85 percent of the state’s votes.
The passing of question 3 means Massachusetts will eliminate criminal and civil penalties for the use and prescription of marijuana by patients that have debilitating diseases such as cancer, HIV, Hepatitis C or multiple sclerosis.
Patients will have a 60-day supply of marijuana and, in rare cases, be able to grow marijuana in their home. There will be a maximum of 35 “treatment centers” by 2013 with no more than five and no less than one in each county.This law will not supersede federal laws related to marijuana and will not affect nonmedical marijuana distribution, possession or usage laws in Massachusetts.
Question 1 will lead to the creation of a law that will be an uncompromised version of a law that was passed by the state house over the summer.
The initiative will require automobile manufacturers to make diagnostic information on all makes and models of automobiles available to all citizens and independent auto repair shops in an effort to level competition between manufacturer-connected dealerships and authorized repair shops and independent mechanic shops and citizens.
Prior to the initiative’s passing, critics argued that if it passed, it would create two contradictory laws on the same subject and slow the implementation of the law.
The second initiative, “Death with Dignity,” was the closest vote and a virtual tie with 93 percent of precincts reporting by press time. The vote was not yet called by 2:30 a.m. this morning, whereas the other two questions were decided around 10 p.m. last night.
If question 2 does pass, it would allow for “physicians licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally-ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end that person’s life,” as it was worded on the ballot.
The cognitive ability of the patient to make the decision and fact that the patient is actually terminally ill both must be reviewed by a second doctor before there can be a prescription for a lethal dosage of the medication. A blood relative is allowed to participate in assisting the patient if there is a witness present.
If it does not pass, there will be no changes to the current end-of-life laws.
In order to pass in Massachusetts, a ballot initiative must receive a simple majority, or more than 50 percent, of yes votes as well as at least 30 percent of all of the state’s votes in favor of the initiative. Not all voters in the election vote on the ballot questions, so this rule was put in place to ensure that it has enough support throughout the state, rather than just among those who voted on the question.
The statewide ballot questions that were voted on, although sometimes referred to as referendums, are initiatives, a specific form of ballot question that is a legally binding vote by the citizens of Massachusetts. It requires the Massachusetts legislature, the General Court, to create and fund the new law within 30 days of the ballot question being passed.
Students answer ballot questions
Many University of Massachusetts students revealed on Tuesday that they voted in favor of all three statewide ballot questions.
Some chose not to vote on the subjects.
Senior political science major Dan Halloran was one student who did not vote on question 1. He said that he did not know enough on the subject to make an informed decision and said that the question should be left up to the legislature.
Other students were surprised at question 2.
Junior public health major Kleopatra Jankulla said that she was “taken aback” that the question was even on the ballot and freshman Soroche Kohistani said that it is simply wrong for both doctors and patients to take part in assisted death.
“Everybody in life suffers, but suicide is a sin,” Kohistani said. “A doctor’s job is to take care of people, this to me is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath … the doctor’s job and integrity is put on the line.”
Conversely, junior kinesiology major Samantha Prescott said that she voted in favor of the measure, even though it has polarized voters because she believes that the act can really make a change.
Prescitt said that if the bill passes, it “will really make a big difference.”
Junior political science major Ritika Bhakhri agreed with Prescott. She said that “patients should have the right to die with dignity” because it is “beneficial to those who are trapped by their illness.”
Question 3 got heavy support from students.
Junior environmental design student Nicole Forsyth said that she voted for question three.
“I really believe (medical marijuana) has a lot of benefits. … My uncle had cancer and it really helped him a lot,” she said.
Mitchell Scuzzarella contributed to this report.
Sam Hayes can be reached at email@example.com.