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Boston Globe Endorses Adult-Use Legalization

October 27, 2016
In a surprising move, the Boston Globe has endorsed the Massachusetts cannabis legalization initiative, Question 4. In an op-ed published Thursday morning, the Globe editorial board announced its support of the initiative. Opponents of the measure, the paper argued, have “inadvertently provided the best reason to vote for the measure.”

Those opponents, which include political heavy hitters like Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, have refused to consider legalizing and regulating cannabis through legislative action, and came out early against Question 4. Their opposition drove early negative opinion on the measure, but voters have swung the other way since early September. The most recent poll released on Oct. 19 has Question 4 leading 55 percent to 40 percent, with five percent undecided.

The Globe editorial board wrote that Question 4 could have been “better-crafted,” but the current initiative is all they’ve got to work with. And it’s a good start:

“The Globe endorses the yes campaign, despite the proposal’s many flaws, because the harm stemming from continued inaction on marijuana would be even greater.”

Massachusetts decriminalized cannabis possession in 2008, but state law left cannabis in a kind of “legal netherworld,” the Globe wrote, as it was legal to possess up to one ounce, but no one could legally sell it.

The newspaper isn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of legal cannabis. But its editorial board concluded that the harms of prohibition far outweigh the uncertain outcomes of regulated legalization:

“Using marijuana isn’t completely safe, and it isn’t completely harmless to others when users drive. But a social consensus is clearly emerging that pot’s real dangers just aren’t great enough to merit outlawing it anymore. While the authors of Question 4 could have written a much better law, they at least got the big picture right. Legal marijuana is coming. Let’s get on with it.”

Question 4 would create a legal marketplace for cannabis, creating thousands of jobs, and if done right, could end the illicit market. As the Globe mentions, the referendum calls for an unusually low 3.75 percent tax, on top of the normal state sales tax. The state’s legislature, the Globe argues, should look into raising the tax if the initiative passes.

Washington State’s cannabis excise tax is 37 percent; Colorado’s is 29 percent. California is proposing a 15 percent excise tax on adult-use cannabis in its Proposition 64.

The Globe noted that Massachusetts lawmakers have complained that improving the legal language in Question 4 would require them to clear time in their busy schedules. “Respectfully, today’s Legislature is by and large the same group of lawmakers who somehow found the time to write legislation for the horse-racing industry,” the paper responded. “They can survive the inconvenience that their constituents may impose on their calendars.”

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • JeffWalenta

    Good on them, things are looking good in mass hopefully voters can do the right thing and get this thing passed.

    • Craig Slist

      I’ve already voted “Yes” here in MA. Hoping that it passes.

  • Pawpower58

    I have tried weed in my younger years a long time ago. What I do remember is that I would rather be on our roads/highways with 10 people smoking weed than I would 1 drunk. At least if a weed smoke smoker would happen to run into me, they would be driving below the speed limit and not 20/30 mph over the speed limit. That 20/30 MPH faster is what turns a vehicle into a very deadly missile that crushes a vehicle in from the front to the back, and kills everyone in both vehicles!!!

  • lovingc

    If you will notice these states Col.and Wash. both still have thriving black markets. The only way to kill the black market is to under price it. The lower tax rate would help to end the black marked dealing.

    • Grow Your Own

      You are right the Price has to Come Down To Kill the Black Market.
      I worked at a Dispensary at the Front Desk & Bud Tender in the Back and I know the Dispensary Owners (at least where I worked) are making a killing. Everybody wants to make Millions as Fast as Possible especially the States who need more money for Excessive State Pensions. Millions can still be made with Lower Prices & Lower Taxes which will Draw more Customers. “Washington imposes a 37 percent state tax on recreational marijuana, compared to 25 percent in Oregon”.

      • You guys are right that prices have to come down to kill the black market, but even if they do the black market will still thrive as long as prohibition still continues in some states.

  • Mariann Blossick

    I live in CT and have a mmj card for crohn’s disease. I wish the New England states would accept each others’ cards and it would be great if it was valid in any state that has Medical MJ. If this passes in MA I may have to move across the boarder 😉

    • dbo

      Just a matter of time.

  • dbo

    This has been due for decades, millions in tax dollars for states and millions saved in stupid arrest and court time, plus as a 69 year old pot smoker, we are not violent, too happy maybe.

  • BobinMass

    It’s going to be strange to purchase weed legally, really surreal. We’ll have to keep donating to the yes on 4 org as I’m sure a lawsuit will be needed to get the state gov moving on this.

  • End the war on drugs. It’s always been an abysmal failure.

  • Poet&Surfer

    Any Cannabis attorney in this forum? I have questions regarding licenses and permits. Please, write me a line to