Massachusetts Ballot Measures: What Do They Really Say?
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 02:11
Almost every year that state or federal level officers are elected in Massachusetts, the public gets to decide on ballot measures when they cast their vote. This year, there will be three questions: business regulation, aided suicide, and medical marijuana.
This system of public voting for laws is only available in 24 states. When citizens believe that the legislature is being unresponsive towards the measures they want, they create a petition for a bill to be placed on the ballot. If they obtain the required amount of signatures before the first Wednesday in July, then the bill is put on the ballot for popular vote.
While the typical ballot has two to three questions, there have been as many as eight measures in the 2000 election. In 2004 there were no ballot measures.
The first question on this year’s ballot is about business regulation. It says that car manufacturers must give information about car diagnostics and repair procedures to owners and independent repair shops.
Supporters say that consumers will get more choice, while opponents say that the repair shops have access to the information they already need, so this is just a power move by manufacturers who want control.
The second question is regarding death with dignity. It says that doctors can provide lethal drugs to patients who ask for it. The person must be terminally ill (will die within six months), be able to make their own conscious decision, and request the drug twice orally and once in writing. They need to make the first oral request, and then wait at least fifteen days before making the second and third requests.
Supporters of this measure say that terminally ill patients will have control over their own deaths and ease suffering and pain. Opponents of this measure say that it is morally wrong, and that beneficiaries can abuse this law.
The third question on the ballot is to allow medical marijuana. It states that physicians can issue prescriptions for 60-days’ worth of marijuana, and the acceptable amount will be determined by the Department of Public Health (DPH).
This marijuana would be grown at manufacturing centers across the state, there can be no more than 35 manufacturing centers and a person must be 21-years-old and registered with the DPH to work there. However, if a person is not financially stable enough to afford marijuana, they can get a doctor’s prescription to grow enough for the 60-day period.
The law also says that caregivers over the age of 21 are allowed to assist with the medical marijuana but are not allowed to consume the marijuana themselves. Both the user and caregiver must be registered with the DPH.
Supporters of this measure argue that seventeen other states have already done it, marijuana has many benefits to people who are very sick, and the wording of the bill prevents marijuana from being used for other reasons. Opponents say that all of the tests on marijuana are not truly scientific, therefore no one really knows the benefits and the FDA has not approved it.
On top of voting for the president, the senator, and the representatives, Massachusetts voters have three very important bills to vote on. These bills affect everyone, so do your research, and remember to vote on November 6.