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  Comty. Preserv. Act
  Marijuana use
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Marijuana laws

Residents will be asked to vote on a non-binding policy question relating to marijuana use:

The ballot asks residents to:

Decriminalize small amounts: Plymouth, Kingston, Plympton, Duxbury precincts 1 and 6, Halifax precinct 1 and Middleboro precincts 1 and 5.
Allow medicinal use: Milton recincts 2 and 5-19, Randolph precincts 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8


Decriminalizing marijuana favored

Recommendation heavily backed in S. Shore towns


The Patriot Ledger / Nov. 8, 2006

Voters would rather have a little dope in their pockets than wine in supermarkets.

The nonbinding ballot question asking voters to instruct their representatives to support legislation that would make possessing less than an ounce of marijuana a civil rather than a criminal infraction passed by nearly 2 to 1 in Plymouth, Duxbury, Kingston and Halifax.

A question to approve medical use of marijuana passed 2 to 1 in Milton. Meanwhile, voters in the four towns soundly rejected the proposal to allow wine sales in grocery stores.

The marijuana question results pleased but did not surprise John Leonard of the Drug Policy Forum, which sponsored the questions.

“We’ve run these questions in one-third of the state in rural, urban and suburban districts and haven’t lost yet,” Leonard said. “I think we have a good chance of getting some legislation passed in a Deval Patrick administration.”

A bill to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is in the Ways and Means Committee.

Leonard said his group launched the question in Plymouth to win support from the Ways and Means chairwoman, Sen. Therese Murray, D-Plymouth.

Leonard said Murray has been mum about her stance on the issue, perhaps out of fear of a backlash.

“We want to show her there is wide support for this legislation,” Leonard said.

Rep. Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth, had said he hoped voters would not support decriminalization, and that he would be reluctant to follow their lead if they did.

Neither candidate for the vacant House seat in the 12th Plymouth District supported relaxing marijuana laws, but one, Thomas Calter, said he would be willing to abide by the will of the people. He said the state Health Department should study the medical benefit and make a recommendation.

Calter’s opponent, Olly deMacedo, said he would not support legislation to relax marijuana laws.

Late last night, their race was too close to call.

In the last three elections, 61 percent of Massachusetts voters have supported decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

A wider majority, 68 percent, supported medical use of marijuana.

Boston University economist Jeffrey Miron estimated in 2002 that arrests and processing for simple possession of marijuana cost Massachusetts $24.3 million a year.

Currently, 11 states, including Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine, have laws to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest, Leonard said.

Tamara Race can be reached at trace@ledger.com
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Voters in 2 districts can weigh in on relaxing pot laws


The Patriot Ledger / Oct. 26, 2006

In two South Shore districts, the Nov. 7 election ballot will ask voters whether they favor decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Candidates seeking to represent them at the State House hope voters say no.

Question 4 on ballots in the 1st and 12th Plymouth Districts comes from the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts, a non-profit group that, for the last seven years, has been placing similar marijuana-law questions on the ballots in various districts.

This year’s question asks: “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would make possession of less than one ounce of marijuana a civil violation, subject to a maximum fine of $100 and not subject to any criminal penalties?”

Rep. Vinny deMacedo, running unopposed in the 1st Plymouth District, thinks most of his constituents would vote against what the question proposes.

Were a majority to vote “yes,” he would want to talk with them about it, but he said would have difficulty following their will. He said it would be contrary to what he considers good drug policy.

“I would like to think my constituents would not support the decriminalization of marijuana,” the Plymouth Republican said. “(Following their instruction) in this particular case, it’s something I would have a hard time embracing.”

“It sends a bad message to our young people, that we don’t feel this is a bad thing to use,” deMacedo said. “Just like we don’t want young people experimenting with alcohol, we don’t want them experimenting with marijuana.”

Both candidates for the 12th Plymouth District seat, Democrat Thomas Calter and Republican Olly deMacedo, are also opposed to decriminalization, but they differ on how they would respond to majority approval of the ballot question.

Although he is not in favor of making possession a civil violation, Calter can see a potential benefit to the sick.

“Marijuana has long been understood to be a gateway drug. Therefore, the Legislature should not write a law to legalize it,” he said. “The executive branch should instruct the (Department of Public Health)to study the medicinal value of marijuana and propose a change in regulations, if appropriate.”

He indicated that his personal opposition would not outweigh the voice of the people.

“If the voters in Duxbury, Plymouth, Kingston, Halifax, Plympton and Middleboro felt strongly, I would support their will,” Calter said.

Olly deMacedo said his experiences working with drug-addicted teenagers at Teen Challenge, a Christian-based rehabilitation program in Brockton, would make it impossible for him to support decriminalization, regardless of how the 12th District voting turns out.

“So many times when you hear how they got into heroin and hard drugs, it’s because they first experimented with marijuana,” he said. “These young kids, their lives have been destroyed. It breaks you up. It’s always, ‘My friend had some; I just took a puff,’ and five or six years later they’re robbing their own parents to support a drug habit. I could not, by any means, be for that.”

The Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts asked the same question of voters in Cohasset, Hingham, Hull and Scituate in 2004. Nearly 69 percent of the people who voted on the question voted in favor.

Karen Goulart may be reached at kgoulart@ledger.com.
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Timilty: No stance yet on pot question

He says he will consider results of referendum


The Patriot Ledger / Oct. 23, 2006

Democratic state Rep. Walter Timilty hasn’t heard much from his constituents on the question of allowing the medical use of marijuana.

He’ll get a chance on Nov. 7 when residents of the 7th Norfolk District weigh in on the issue by way of a non-binding ballot question. The district consists of precincts 2 and 5 to 10 in Milton and Randolph precincts 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8.

The question of whether to make medicinal marijuana legal is Question 4 on the ballot in the 7th District but is not on the statewide ballot.

Timilty doesn’t plan to offer any guidance on the issue, but will listen to what voters have to say.

“Any question that appears on the ballot, I take very seriously,” the fourth-term Democrat said. “I have a policy of trying to adhere to the will of the people as expressed in referendums.”

As for how he’ll vote on the issue, Timilty, who has no challenger this election, said he doesn’t know yet.

“I haven’t read the question yet,” he said last week. “I still figured I had a couple of weeks to go.”

The question that will appear on ballots in the 7th Norfolk District reads: “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow seriously ill patients, with their doctor's written recommendation, to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for their personal medical use?”

Timilty said he has been focused on getting home rule bills for his district through the Legislature before the end of the term.

“I’ve got to study the issue, which I haven’t had the chance to do,” Timilty said.

Legislation to allow medical marijuana hasn’t been a hot topic during his eight years in the Legislature, Timilty said. A phone call from a reporter was the first one he had received on the issue, he said.

He doesn’t plan to take a position before the vote.

“I’ve always been a believer in not trying to tell people what to do on referendums,” Timilty said.

The Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts has been placing questions on easing marijuana laws on ballots across the state during the past seven years. The group said the results show most voters are ready for changes in marijuana laws.

In five South Shore towns, a majority of the residents who cast ballots in the 2004 election were in favor of letting seriously ill people use medical marijuana. Abington, Whitman, East Bridgewater, Canton and Stoughton all passed the nonbinding ballot question, which received 71 percent of the vote in the 6th Norfolk and 7th Plymouth districts.

In 2004, a similar question was approved in Cohasset, Hingham, Hull and Scituate.

Timilty said this is the first time in his tenure that a public policy question has appeared on ballots in his district. It takes 200 signatures to get the question on the ballot.

Fred Hanson may be reached at fhanson@ledger.com.
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Smoke signals: Some local voters can weigh in on state marijuana laws


The Patriot Ledger / Oct. 17, 2006

Voters in three legislative districts south of Boston will be asked their views on marijuana in the Nov. 7 election.

The questions are non-binding public-policy questions sponsored by the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts, a nonprofit statewide group. For seven years, the group has, in selected districts, been sponsoring ballot questions on easing marijuana laws.

Voters in the 7th Norfolk District will be asked: “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow seriously ill patients, with their doctor’s written recommendation, to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for their personal medical use?”

Rep. Walter F. Timilty, a Democrat, represents the district, which consists of Precincts 2 and 5 through 19 in Milton and Precincts 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8 in Randolph. It is Question 4 on the ballot in that district but is not on the statewide ballot.

It takes 200 signatures to place non-binding questions of public policy on a ballot.

A ballot question concerning marijuana will also be on the ballot in the 1st and the 12th Plymouth Districts. It will ask: “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would make possession of less than one ounce of marijuana a civil violation, subject to a maximum fine of $100 and not subject to any criminal penalties?”

Rep. Vinny deMacedo, a Republican, represents the 1st Plymouth District and is unopposed for re-election. The district consists of Plymouth’s Precincts 2 through 10, 12 and 14.

The 12th Plymouth District consists of Kingston, Plympton, Precincts 1 and 6 in Duxbury, Precinct 1 in Halifax, Precincts 1, 11 and 13 in Plymouth, and Precincts 1 and 5 in Middleboro.

Democrat Thomas Calter and Republican Olly deMacedo, both of Kingston, are vying for the seat left vacant when Democrat Thomas J. O’Brien of Kingston took a job with Plymouth County.

In five South Shore towns, a majority of the residents who cast ballots in the 2004 election were in favor of letting seriously ill people use medical marijuana. Abington, Whitman, East Bridgewater, Canton and Stoughton all passed the non-binding ballot question, which received 71 percent of the vote in the 6th Norfolk and 7th Plymouth Districts.

In 2004, a similar questions was approved in Cohasset, Hingham, Hull and Scituate. Voters in the 3rd Plymouth District were asked whether possession of one ounce of marijuana should be considered a civil offense, like a traffic ticket, instead of a criminal offense. In those four towns, nearly 69 percent of voters approved the question.

The drug reform group argues that decriminalization would result in significant savings for law enforcement agencies because of reduced court time.

In 2002, a similar question was approved in the 5th Plymouth District, which consists of Rockland, Hanover and Norwell.

The Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts says the results of voting on its ballot questions over the past seven years show that most Massachusetts voters are ready for drug-law changes.

Sue Scheible may be reached at sscheible@ledger.com.
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