Bring marijuana business above ground

Opponents of Question 4 paint it as a measure that will bring marijuana to Massachusetts, make it available to minors, and create a large marijuana industry in the state. In fact, we have marijuana, it’s readily available to minors, and there’s already a large marijuana industry. The only question is whether we want an illegal industry or a legal one.

Opponents of Question 4 effectively support the illegal industry’s right to continue doing business on street corners, in alleyways, or in the apartment across the hall from you, selling directly to minors, selling other drugs alongside marijuana, recognizing no law, paying no taxes, and pouring all profits back into the black market.

We who support Question 4 favor bringing the marijuana business aboveground, where it can be taxed and regulated. Selling marijuana in stores that check ID and don’t sell other drugs is safer for our children and our communities. And by the way, those stores won’t be selling brightly colored candy in their front windows, despite what you may have seen on TV. Edibles will be wrapped, with the THC content clearly stamped on the wrapper. And no store window displays of any marijuana products of any kind will be visible from the street. 

Legal marijuana is also fairer to our children and our communities. As a recent ACLU study confirms, marijuana enforcement targets African Americans, making them 3 to 4 times as likely to suffer legal consequences for using marijuana as white folks doing the same thing.

Most importantly, legal marijuana is more in line with what Americans mean by “freedom.” It simply isn’t the government’s business if you’re sitting at home having a joint at the end of the day instead of a beer. 

Just one last reason to vote for Question 4: For years we’ve heard complaints about Massachusetts residents going to New Hampshire to buy their liquor.  If Question 4 passes, it’s payback time.

Andy Gaus is press secretary of MassCann/NORML, an organization which has been dedicated to legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts since 1989.