While voters across the nation cast their votes on hotly-contested national races, a resounding majority of Massachusetts residents voted yesterday to legalize the use of medical marijuana. Physician-assisted suicide, the other issue put to voters on the ballot, remained contested until the early hours of the morning. At press time, the measure seemed headed to a narrow defeat.
Question 3 on voters’ ballots, entitled “Medical Use of Marijuana,” included provisions to legalize cannabis use by patients with “debilitating medical conditions” and sanctions the creation of 35 medical marijuana dispensaries across the Commonwealth.
Over 60 percent of Massachusetts voters yesterday declared their support for the initiative, which was heavily favored to pass according to polls by The Boston Globe and Suffolk University.
“I just don’t really get what the big deal is,” Laura E. N. Gullett ’16 said. Gullett, who voted in favor of legalization, noted that marijuana is considered a viable treatment for many diseases and was pleased the law had passed.
Federal law categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is not officially recognized to have any medical benefits. However, with the passing of Question 3, Massachusetts has become the eighteenth state to permit the use of medical marijuana within its borders.
Attorney John S. Scheft ’81, an opponent of medical marijuana legalization, expressed serious concern about the text of the provision, pointing out that the new law expands the definition of debilitating conditions to include “other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.”
Now that the law has passed, Scheft said that he is not sure what the next steps are for medical marijuana opponents. He said he plans to closely watch the regulations that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health creates under this new law.
Voters in the state also weighed in on two other ballot initiatives, including a law that would legalize physician-assisted suicide and a law regarding the sharing of automobile repair information.
Question 2 on voters’ ballots, entitled “Prescribing Medication to End Life,” was down by a slim margin at press time. The initiative would have allowed physicians to prescribe medication to end a terminally-ill patient’s life at the patient’s request.
The ballot question enjoyed strong support from many Harvard Medical School faculty, but was ultimately defeated after a strong campaign by opponents. Students who voted yesterday voiced their disappointment at the results of the referendum.
“Overall, terminally-ill patients, if they are going to die, should have the right to ask a doctor to end their life for them,” Jennifer W. Leung ’16 said. “If someone is terminally-ill, they shouldn’t have to go through that pain.”
The final ballot initiative, which requires automobile manufacturers to share information necessary for repairs with independent mechanics and customers, was voted into law by a landslide.
The new legislation, entitled “Right to Repair,” is a stricter version of a compromise bill passed by the Massachusetts legislature earlier this year, forcing automobile companies to comply with regulations within the next two years.