Ballot questions legalize marijuana, restrict charter schools in MA

While many have focused their attention on the Presidential election for the past week and the seismic change Trump’s election will bring, not as many are aware of the ballot questions that passed in Massachusetts. The passage of these ballot measures will affect the lives of those who attend Wheaton and live in Norton in the coming years.

Question 1 on the ballot was a question that focused on gambling, and the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts, a state the act was once illegal in. Question 1 asked voters whether or not an additional slots license should be allowed, which would allow for the construction of a new casino, most likely in Revere, Massachusetts. The proposed casino would have been located adjacent to Suffolk Downs, and would have contained 1,200 slot machines. Nearly all elected officials in MAssachusetts opposed this question, for both economic and social reasons. This question failed, and nearly 61% of voters opposed it, according to MassLive.

Question 2 was probably the second most controversial question on the ballot this year. It proposed the expansion of charter schools to include 12 new schools in Massachusetts, schools that are supposed to serve as labs of education innovation and do not have as much oversight as public schools. This question was also shot down by voters, and despite support from prominent Massachusetts politicians such as Governor Charlie Baker. Opponents of the question argued that it would take away funding from public schools, and would only serve as a temporary fix to better educate low-income students in the Boston area.

More successfully perhaps, Question 3 passed with little difficulty in Massachusetts. The measures proposed would regulate farm animal confinement in the state, and would also place restrictions on products brought in from other states. This question forces farmers to allow animals enclosures in which they can stand up, turn around, sit down, and move their limbs.

Although this question is common sense for supporters of animal rights, many farmers and lobbyists for the farming industry opposed it. Opponents claimed that it would cause the prices of foods such as eggs to rise for consumers. The passage of this measure will also place the same restrictions on food producers from out of state who wish to sell their goods in Massachusetts.

The ballot measure that has drawn the most attention in the state, however, was definitively Question 4. Question 4 asked voters whether or not they wished to legalize marijuana in the state. Both the opposition and support for this question were strong in the weeks leading up to the election, with the cannabis industry in other states strongly pushing for it and religious organizations such as the Boston archdiocese pushing back.

Student organizations at college campuses also strongly supported the measure. Says Wheaton student Krittika Chatterjee ’18, “Massachusetts is a relatively liberal state. The people have been smoking weed. Legalization finally gives us the means to regulate its use, and not only that, but to better teach our youth what safe use of marijuana looks like.”

The measure passed with a relatively slim majority, and shops selling marijuana will be able to open in January of 2018. Lawmakers in Boston are scrambling to come up with a council to advise on regulations and rules for the new industry. The passage, and failure, of all of these ballot questions will continue to affect towns and cities in Massachusetts as their measures are put into place.