Name: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act
Ballot Number: Question 4
Front Group: Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts
Backer: Marijuana Policy Project
Key Provision: Allows for home growing of up to six plants.
Based on recent history and current polling, of all the pro-cannabis law reform initiatives before state voters this year, Massachusetts’ legalization initiative has the best prospect of winning.
Massachusetts voters historically have provided the largest margins of victory for state cannabis law reform efforts, with 63% endorsing decriminalization in 2010 and 65% voting for medical access in 2014. At press time, polls in the Bay State showed Question 4 leading by a 48% to 42% margin.
Additionally, Massachusetts voters have the opportunity each election to endorse or decline non-binding ballot questions, and local cannabis activists associated with MassCann/NORML have placed numerous cannabis law reform questions on the ballot over the years that have passed with overwhelming support (which bodes well for binding ballot questions, such as Question 4).
Earlier this year, several competing legalization initiatives emerged, but the MPP-backed Question 4 simply has had more financial resources (derived largely from companies and individuals already in the legal cannabis market in Massachusetts and other states) than local grassroots marijuana law reform organizations.
While cannabis law reform has always proven popular with Massachusetts voters, a triumvirate of the common-wealth’s most powerful politicians— Republican Governor Charlie Baker, Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Democratic State Attorney General Maura Healey—has been waging a public campaign in favor of continuing the long-failed policy of pot prohibition.
This group of out-of-touch politicians has joined with the drug rehab industry (and its front group, Project SAM), police and prosecutors in an effort to defeat Question 4, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside of the home and up to 10 ounces of marijuana securely locked up in one’s residence. The measure would permit adults to cultivate up to six enclosed plants in their household (and to possess all of the marijuana the plants produce).
Currently, Massachusetts has seven operating medical cannabis facilities. Question 4 would create a framework for commercial production and retail sales for adult use.
Rick Steves and the NORML Foundation have each chipped in $50,000 to the effort. The opposition may have big names on board, but their total lack of financial backing to keep prohibition alive in Massachusetts speaks volumes.
— Allen St. Pierre
This is part of Freedom Leaf’s 2016 State-By-State Ballot Initiative Guide.