Local Ballot Measures Matter

By Terranova Tasker


Unless you have been hiding under a large rock in a deep cave for the last 15 months, you are probably aware that there is a presidential election this November. If you have taken the time to pick up and read this issue of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, you’d probably consider yourself an informed citizen, right?

OK, quick quiz: What other issues are going to be on the 2012 Massachusetts ballot.

Drawing a blank? Thank goodness I am here to help.

If you are registered to vote in Massachusetts here is what you need to know about the three statewide ballot questions this year.

According to the Massachusetts division of elections, ballot measure 3 is a proposed law that would “eliminate state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients.” This law would allow qualifying patients to have a Department of Public Health-approved 60-day supply of marijuana provided they have a designated caregiver and physician’s certification.

The proposed law would also allow the creation of 35 non-profit treatment centers to “grow, process, and provide marijuana” under the DPH’s supervision. If for any reason a patient, or their caregiver, is unable to access their treatment center due to financial hardship, physical inability, or access to reasonable transportation, the patient can be provided a cultivation permit to grow a personal supply.

This law would not override any current laws on “possession, cultivation, or sale of marijuana,” but only expand the limits on legal medical marijuana. If passed this law would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

If passed, ballot measure 2 would allow a Massachusetts licensed physician to euthanize qualifying, terminally-ill patients upon their request. A qualifying patient would need to be determined as mentally capable and able to communicate their decision, be diagnosed of an incurable and irreversible disease, with less than six months to live, and have explored all possible options in connection to their diagnosis.

Specifically, this law would also require patients to communicate their end-of-life decision twice in a span of no less than 15 days, with two witnesses – one of which cannot be a relative or beneficiary of the estate.

Critics of measure 2 say the law is poorly written because it does not explicitly require all patients to seek mental health counseling as part of their decision process. The way the law is currently written, it only states that patients must receive a second consenting opinion from another physician.

Ballot measure 1 would prohibit all car manufacturers from “selling or leasing a new car without allowing the owner access to the same diagnostic and repair information made available to the manufacturer’s dealers and in-state authorized repair facilities.” This would affect cars manufactured from 2002 and on.

This law would require manufacturers to provide access to all repair information electronically at a controlled fair market price that will not unfairly favor a specific repair company or dealer.

According to the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee, this law is makes it more convenient and less expensive for car owners to get repair information, without being exclusively forced to go to the dealership. Greater access to repair and diagnose information is a step to reduce the monopoly that major car manufacturers have on the auto repair industry. It aims to give small and independent auto shops a better chance of competing. Measure 1 would not infringe on intellectual property rights, or demand that auto manufactures release trade secrets.

Massachusetts is one of the few states to have an average voter turnout rate above 50 percent in non-presidential election years, making it one of the most politically active states. It is easy to be engaged in national politics when it’s the only thing being covered by every media outlet in the country. The integrity of being a fully informed voter lies in knowing how government will affect your life on a daily basis.

Terranova Tasker is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]