October 31 2016

Letter to the Editor: In Opposition to Ballot Question 4

The following is a Letter to the Editor: 

There has been much talk about the need to legalize recreational use of marijuana because we are filling our prisons with people who have been arrested for marijuana use.  What people are not realizing is that 1 oz or less of marijuana has been decriminalized.  We also need to realize that an ounce can range from 30-50 joints.  So why is Massachusetts voting on Question 4 when 30-50 joints will not get you thrown in jail?  When we have legalized medical marijuana that is being utilized?


Question 4 has been written by the marijuana industry for the marijuana industry.  $4.9 million has been spent by the marijuana industry supporting this bill.  There are no legal limits in the bill for marijuana impaired driving, there are no limits on the amount of THC in edible products and the tax rate is almost half of what it is in Colorado.  In addition, if the bill passes a 15 member advisory board would be created and 9 of those members would come from the marijuana industry. 


Colorado is taxing the marijuana industry at 30%.  In MA it would be 12% at most.  Can we really believe that the added costs of educational programs, health programs, and public safety costs along with regulating programs will be covered?   Who does this bill benefit?  Our state, towns, schools or hospitals?  None of the above, this bill with very low regulation and almost no limits, benefits the marijuana industry.


According to a September 2015 report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Traffic Area since Colorado has legalized recreational marijuana use there have been increases in:


- marijuana related hospital visits 

- school suspensions 

- driving fatalities 


The bill provides no legal limits for marijuana impairment driving.  There is no breathalyzer test and the blood test can take up to 2 hours to be administered.  Colorado and Washington have both seen a doubling of fatal crashes involving drivers with marijuana in their system since legalizing recreational marijuana.  Is a Yes vote worth just one family member, friend, neighbor community member being killed from an increase in marijuana related accidents?  


The amount of THC in edibles has NO limits in this bill.  In Colorado 50% of their marijuana sales have been in the form of edibles.  While the bill says edibles are not marketed to children, they will be on billboards and in the media as they are in other states where recreational marijuana is legal.  The number of children ages 9 and under who have ingested marijuana has increased in Colorado as well as the other states that have legalized marijuana.  If the legalization of recreational marijuana passes, one can have an ounce of marijuana and possess up to 9 more ounces in their house.  Remember how many joints one ounce makes?  Times that by 10!  Ask yourself, what does that look like in edibles?  By the way, in Oregon it is only 7 more ounces in the home.


Marijuana dispensaries are outnumbering Starbucks, McDonalds and Seven Eleven combined in Colorado and Starbucks in Oregon.  We have 3 Starbucks in Burlington.  Think about our location.  It will not take long for us to have more than 4 pot shops here in town.  Even if Question 4 passes, we need to send a strong message from our town we vote NO and do not want marijuana stores in our town.  I strongly urge you to vote NO on Question 4 and send the message that bills need to written that do not put the marijuana industry profits first but rather our state and its people. 




Kristin Russo 


Burlington Resident 



Editor's note: This letter was edited to say there are "3 Starbucks" in town rather than "4" as originally published. 

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