By Megan Palumbo & Karlee Henry – Sports Editor & 1851 Staff
For Massachusetts voters, Ballot Question 4 is an intriguing yet messy subject. Question 4 calls for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana. If the question passes, Massachusetts will join Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington State and District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Many people are torn between supporting the proposed law or opposing it. However, many people aren’t very educated on the topic or the outcomes if the question passes.
According to Ballotpedia.org, the proposed law would allow the possession, use, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana in limited amounts by persons age 21 and older.
If the question passes, the new law would take effect on December 15. There would be a Cannabis Control Commission, which would be in charge of the licensing of selling marijuana, the security of the drug, record keeping, health and safety standards, packaging and labeling, testing, advertising and displays, as well as required inspections. There would be a state sales tax, an additional 3.75 percent excise tax and a possible municipal tax.
Marijuana is legalized recreationally and medically in several states already, and is a very hot topic for debate. Legalization can create a boost in tax revenue and relief for certain medical patients, while decreasing money that circulates in the illegal drug market.
On the flipside, many believe marijuana is addictive in nature, is labeled a “gateway drug” and can lead to poor mental health. Although the drug is not as addictive as harder drugs such as cocaine, long-term use can lead to dependence. Legalization increases tax revenues, but in turn it could lead to higher costs of treatment for those that experimented with hard drugs after smoking marijuana.
According to The Boston Globe, “Colleges and universities say they won’t permit consumption even in private spaces on campus, such as dorm rooms. That’s because almost all schools get federal funding and, therefore, must comply with federal law, under which marijuana remains illegal.”
“Marijuana can be used as a tool,” an anonymous Lasell student said, on the opposing side. Another student said, “People can develop a reliance on marijuana.” An anonymous faculty member said, “If they don’t legalize marijuana, then they should not legalize alcohol.”
Whether the law is passed or not, the debate will surely continue. Just make sure to understand the information before voting.