Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
Here at Worcester Mag we bear the burden of being the only local news outlet willing to write the word “marijuana” without it falling into a story about a drug bust or an editorial railing against changing current drug laws. It’s a weighty ball and chain to be sure, but one we’ll gladly carry for our readers. (As far as I know, Worcester Mag has not done any research into how many of our readers self-identify as pot heads.)
The reason I bring this up is because there’s more good news out there for people advocating for a change to the state’s drug laws.
Two public policy questions, one regarding legalizing medicinal marijuana and the other on regulating and taxing it appeared in 17 state representative districts and one senatorial district across the state on Election Day, polling about 8.5 percent of the state’s electorate. (Over 300,000 people actually cast votes on the questions.) The results show voters in Massachusetts are largely in favor of legalization for both personal and medicinal use.
59.9 percent of voters asked if they favored legalizing the purchase, growth and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes said yes, while 61.3 percent of voters are in favor of complete regulation. No area was polled with both questions, except for one precinct in Boston.
Locally, the 13th Worcester and 18th Worcester were asked about medicinal marijuana. In the liberal 13th, 58.7 percent of voters were in favor. Somewhat surprisingly, the more conservative 18th Worcester, which just elected Republican Ryan Fattman over Jennifer Callahan for state rep., was higher, with 62.2 percent saying it should be legal.
Organizers from the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition and the Drug Policy Forum say that these are excellent stats, especially for a mid-term election where numbers usually run 3-4 percentage points lower than during a presidential election. Also, more surprisingly, these were the 62nd and 63rd marijuana reform public policy questions done since 2000. None of them — not one in 63 — have failed.
Because the questions were non-binding, no laws will change because of this. But organizers are hoping it will push legislators, especially those in conservative areas (hint hint, Ryan Fattman) to move marijuana reform bills towards a shot on the House floor.
More information on this coming in Thursday’s paper.