Pubdate: Thu, 13 Nov 2008
Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)
Copyright: 2008 The Eagle-Tribune
Author: Steven S. Epstein


To the editor:

I do not see the vote on Question 2 as "puzzling considering recent 
history." I expected the margin of victory to be at least 65 percent, 
given the similar magnitude of support votes on nonbinding public 
policy questions around the state obtained beginning with the general 
election of 2000. It was that year that the first petitions for 
marijuana law reform using public policy questions appeared and won 
on the ballot in one state Senate and two state representative districts.

In 2002, voters in 19 districts petitioned their representatives, 
including Barbara L'Italien, whom it outpolled by 1,120 votes.

In 2004, voters in state Sen. Fred Berry's and state Sen. Thomas 
McGee's districts and four state House districts petitioned and it 
was "deja vu all over again" at the election in 2006 as two more 
districts petitioned their representatives. These petitions passed 
each time with an average majority of 60 percent.

The Legislature had time and opportunity to enact reform legislation. 
Its final opportunity came after over 105,000 voters petitioned to 
place the bill, now known as Question 2, before the Legislature in 
January 2008.  In March, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary held 
the constitutionally required hearing on the proposed law. The 
committee was well acquainted with the magnitude of public support 
for reform and of ways other than that presented in Question 2 to 
accomplish it, having held three hearings on the concept of marijuana 
decriminalization since 2001. The Legislature chose not to exercise 
this opportunity.

Looking in the rear-view mirror, what is puzzling is that the elected 
district attorneys didn't see the tidal wave approaching and work 
with advocates and the Legislature in passing reform sooner; saving 
thousands from criminal charges that we now know the people do not 
want to impose upon the marijuana users among us.

Steven S. Epstein
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake