Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Mass supports marijuana reform laws statewide

Marijuana advocates and enthusiasts statewide rejoiced as Massachusetts saw success for approval of several marijuana reform public policy questions in 74 towns in the 2010 election.

Voters in 18 districts across the state were asked nine questions on the use of medical marijuana and nine questions on the legalization and taxation of marijuana for distribution to the public. The questions showed that the majority of voters in Massachusetts are in favor of medical use and the repeal of prohibition on sales.

Nine districts approved questions which would allow use of medical marijuana by between 41 percent and 59 percent margins. This overall approval of the medical marijuana questions may lead the Bay State to join the 14 other states in which physician-regulated use is tolerated.

Voters in eight other State House districts and one State Senate district approved public policy questions encouraging legislators to develop regulation and taxation plans for marijuana. All nine questions were passed relating to taxation and regulation by at least 61 percent.

The 2010 national election contributed to the approval of 63 marijuana public policy questions in total relating to decriminalization, medical use, and legalization since 2000. The average popular support for the 63 PPQs in total was at 64 percent, according to Bill Downing of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition.

Downing said such policy questions help spur enthusiasm for putting more binding questions on the ballot.

“For large fund[raising drives] you need to get interest involved, and one way you do that is providing evidence that such an effort would succeed,” he said.

The questions target legislators of these districts and, such groups as the CRC would hope, indicate that they should be supporting such policies.

Sometimes, explained Downing, the legislators are highly influential people, such as Jeffrey Sanchez, who represents the 15th Suffolk District and is chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health. Another legislator the group targeted was State Sen. Cynthia Creem of the First Middlesex and Norfolk District, who is chairman of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

The Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts asked voters in the First Hampden State Representative District, 18th Worcester Representative District, 9th Norfolk District, 14th Bristol District, 13th Worcester District, and 2nd Bristol District the following question: “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow patients, with their doctor’s written recommendation, to possess, grow, and purchase marijuana for medical use?” All six districts approved the question.

The DPFMA asked the other districts if “the State Representative from this District be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow the state to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol?” in the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket District, 13th Middlesex District, third Hampshire District, and first Franklin District, all of which approved the question.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, commonly known as MassCann, is the official state affiliate of NORML. Downing said MassCann’s philosophy is that “responsible adults should be allowed to smoke marijuana without government interference.”

MassCann also emphasizes the importance of keeping the public educated on the potential benefits of cannabis. He appreciates the “tremendous level of support” from Massachusetts voters on the issue of marijuana reform laws.

Michelle Durant, a sophomore and active member of the University of Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition said the results of the public policy questions are “really, really great news for us.”

“Even though Prop. 19 in California didn’t pass, that means we get to potentially be the first state to legalize,” she pointed out.

Durant also noted that Amherst voted 75 percent in favor of the legalization question.

In the future, Durant hopes to see the legalization of grow-your-own marijuana brought to a ballot question for the town. Durant feels it would “bring prosperity to the area.” Durant notes the potential beneficial contributions of cannabis such as the opportunity for jobs, clothing, and what she called a highly productive alternative to paper.

The CRC sees legalization of marijuana coming in the near future.

 “We see it for 2012; that’s our goal. With the public policy questions passing so well, it definitely gives us confidence that it will pass in 2012 for legalization,” said Durant.

Durant attributes the positive response to the marijuana questions to Amherst being a predominantly liberal college town.

“A lot of people are waking up and realizing that it should not be illegal, because it’s a human right for us to be able to choose,” she said.

Terry Franklin, who is also associated with the UMass CRC and an avid marijuana reform activist, noted that, with the success of these questions, “People are going to reevaluate policy when they see the results.”

Franklin said he feels the issue is being discussed more than in the past.

“A lot of people in politics are looking at it, and a lot of people in the legalization movement are very enthusiastic about the way things are going.”

Nancy Pierce can be reached at [email protected]

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  • F

    FlutieNov 22, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    The prohibitionist rationale of keeping society safe is completely disingenuous.

    The death toll caused by use of (and results from) all illicit drugs is approximately 17,000 per year. The death toll caused by obesity and lack of exercise is approximately 356,000 per year.

    Our trillion dollar drug war is neither motivated by nor has anything to do with public safety.

  • M

    malcolm kyleNov 22, 2010 at 7:16 am

    If you support prohibition then you are NOT a conservative.
    Conservative principles, quite clearly, ARE:

    1) Limited, locally controlled government.
    2) Individual liberty coupled with personal responsibility.
    3) Free enterprise.
    4) A strong national defense.
    5) Fiscal responsibility.

    Prohibition is actually an authoritarian War on the Constitution and all civic institutions of our great nation.

    It’s all about the market and cost/benefit analysis. Whether any particular drug is good, bad, or otherwise is irrelevant! As long as there is demand for any mind altering substance, there will be supply; the end! The only affect prohibiting it has is to drive the price up, increase the costs and profits, and where there is illegal profit to be made criminals and terrorists thrive.

    The cost of criminalizing citizens who are using substances no more harmful than similar things that are perfectly legal like alcohol and tobacco, is not only hypocritical and futile, but also simply not worth the incredible damage it does.

    Afghani farmers produce approx. 93% of the world’s opium which is then, mostly, refined into street heroin then smuggled throughout Eastern and Western Europe.

    Both the Taliban and the terrorists of al Qaeda derive their main income from the prohibition-inflated value of this very easily grown crop, which means that Prohibition is the “Goose that laid the golden egg” and the lifeblood of terrorists as well as drug cartels. Only those opposed, or willing to ignore this fact, want things the way they are.

    See: How opium profits the Taliban:


    Prohibition provides America’s sworn enemies with financial “aid” and tactical “comforts”. The Constitution of the United States of America defines treason as:
    “Article III / Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

    Support for prohibition is therefor an act of treason against the Constitution, and a dire threat to the nation’s civic institutions.

    The Founding Fathers were not social conservatives who believed that citizens should be subordinate to any particular narrow religious moral order. That is what the whole concept of unalienable individual rights means, and sumptuary laws, especially in the form of prohibition, were something they continually warned about.

    It’s time for us all to wise up and help curtail the dangerous expansions of federal police powers, the encroachments on individual liberties, and the increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the unworkable and dangerous policy of drug prohibition.

    To support prohibition you have to be either a socialist, ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.

    * The US national debt has increased at an average rate of $3,000,000000 per day since 2006.
    * The unemployment rate has increased by 7300 per day since 2008.
    * The loss of manufacturing jobs has been 1400 per day since 2006.
    * Without the legalized regulation of opium products Afghanistan will continue to be a bottomless pit in which to throw countless billions of tax dollars and wasted American lives.
    * The hopeless situation in Afghanistan is helping to destabilize it’s neighbor, Pakistan, which is a country with nuclear weapons.
    * The mayhem in Mexico has deteriorated so badly that it’s bordering on farcical.

    There is nothing conservative about prohibition, which enlists the most centralized state power in displacement of domestic and community roles. There is everything authoritarian and subversive about this policy which has incinerated American traditions such as Freedom and Federalism with its puritanical flames. Any person seeking to insure and not further compromise the safety of their family and of their neighbors must not only repudiate prohibition but help spearhead its abolition.

    We will always have adults who are too immature to responsibly deal with tobacco alcohol, heroin amphetamines, cocaine, various prescription drugs and even food. Our answer to them should always be: “Get a Nanny, and stop turning the government into one for the rest of us!”

  • S

    Storm CrowNov 22, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Before you can make an informed decision about anything, you need factual information. That’s just common sense. The decision to allow medical use of cannabis must be based on scientific evidence, not biased rhetoric from either “High Times” or the DARE program!

    WebMD has long been viewed as a respected medical information site. These articles are all from WebMD. They will give you a glimpse of what cannabis can do medically.

    “Marijuana’s Active Ingredient Targets Deadly Brain Cancer”

    “Marijuana Ingredients Slow Invasion by Cervical and Lung Cancer Cells”

    “Marijuana Unlikely to Cause Head, Neck, or Lung Cancer”

    “Marijuana May Fight Lung Tumors”

    “Marijuana Ingredient May Cut Fibromyalgia Pain”

    “Marijuana Chemical Fights Hardened Arteries”

    “Chemicals in Marijuana May Fight MRSA”

    “Pot-Based Drug Promising for Arthritis”

    “Cannabis May Help Multiple Sclerosis”

    “Marijuana May Slow Alzheimer’s”

    “Marijuana Smoking Doesn’t Kill”

    “Teen Pot Smoking Won’t Lead to Other Drugs as Adults”

    These articles, and hundreds more, can be accessed by running a search for “Granny Storm Crow’s MMJ Reference List” – a free online resource for anyone wanting to learn more about this amazing healing herb. Educate yourself!