Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
It wouldn't be an election year without at least a few ballot measures on marijuana policy. This year, we've got three, which I've added to the ballot measure guide. Here's what I added:
Issue: Proposition 5, which replaces criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana with fines and expands drug treatment programs.
Analysis: Where's a single subject rule when you need one? This proposal makes a variety of complex changes to drug treatment programs for convicts, parole, and marijuana possession. The general thrust is the same, though: reducing incarceration and focusing more on drug treatment. Billionaire George Soros is a major supporter, but most municipal officials and the state Chamber of Commerce oppose it.
Issue: Question 2, which would remove criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Analysis: The idea here is to make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil, rather than criminal, offense -- fines would be $100. Interestingly, as in California, George Soros is a big financial backer of the proposal. Many law enforcement officials and Gov. Deval Patrick are opposing it.
Issue: Proposal 08-1, which would allow people with debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana legally.
Analysis: As in Massachusetts, the dynamic here is a Democratic governor (in this case Jennifer Granholm) who doesn't want to soften marijuana policy. An eclectic group of 12 states, ranging from Alaska to Rhode Island, currently allow marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes, but none of them are in the Midwest. Is the Midwest more resistant to the concept? This vote will provide some guidance.
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