Pubdate: Thu, 30 Sep 2010
Source: Valley Advocate (Easthampton, MA)
Copyright: 2010 New Mass Media
Author: Maureen Turner
Cited: MassCann
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)


Voters in a number of Valley communities will have the opportunity to 
weigh in on some important marijuana-related issues on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The state Elections Division has confirmed that four public policy 
questions supported by the marijuana reform group MassCann will be on 
the ballot in certain legislative districts, where organizers managed 
to collect the required number of petition signatures.

While public policy questions are non-binding, they can serve as a 
useful way to gauge public sentiment on an issue, and to make it 
clear to legislators what issues matter to their constituents.

One of the approved questions directly addresses the issue of 
legalization, asking voters: "Shall the State Representative from 
this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that 
would allow the state to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol?" In 
the Valley, that question will be on the ballot in the 1st Franklin 
district--where the current representative, Democrat Steve Kulik, is 
running unopposed--and in the 3rd Hampshire district, where incumbent 
Democrat Ellen Story will face Republican Daniel Sandell and Dan 
Melick, an independent candidate whose platform includes the 
legalization of pot for medical, personal and industrial use. Another 
legalization question will be on the ballot in certain eastern Mass. 
communities only.

In addition, some Valley voters will be asked to weigh in on the 
issue of medical marijuana. In the 1st Hampden district--where 
incumbent Todd Smola, a Republican, is running unopposed--voters will 
be asked: "Shall the state representative from this district be 
instructed to vote in favor of legislation that that would allow 
patients with their doctor's written recommendation, to possess, 
grow, and purchase marijuana for medical use?" A similar question on 
medical marijuana will also be on the ballot in a number of districts 
in the eastern half of the state.

Pot-reform supporters were not able to get public policy questions on 
the ballot in as many districts as initially hoped. But reformers 
here, and across the country, have their eyes trained on California, 
where a statewide question, Proposition 19, would legalize marijuana 
possession and growth for private consumption, and allow the sale of 
marijuana with government regulation and taxation. A number of polls 
taken in recent months show that the majority of California voters 
support Proposition 19; if it does pass, activists in other parts of 
the country will likely try to ride that momentum with legislation in 
their own states.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake