State news: Marijuana legalization question to face pre-ballot voter review

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A panel of 20 Massachusetts voters this summer will jump headfirst into the debate over the marijuana legalization ballot question to produce an independent summary of question’s pros and cons, and give fellow voters easy to understand information on the initiative.

Under the Citizens’ Initiative Review, 20 voters and four alternates selected to match the state’s demographics will take four days in August to hear from the pro- and anti-legalization campaigns, experts on the subject and others before drafting pro and con statements that can be distributed statewide. The panel will not endorse a yes or no vote on the question, but instead strive to give voters as much unvarnished information as possible.

Members of the Citizens' Initiative Review Advisory Board, including former Gov. Michael Dukakis, right, met privately and chose the marijuana legalization ballot question to be reviewed by a panel of voters.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Members of the Citizens’ Initiative Review Advisory Board, including former Gov. Michael Dukakis, right, met privately and chose the marijuana legalization ballot question to be reviewed by a panel of voters.

After briefly deliberating at the State House, Tuesday, July 12, the CIR Advisory Board selected Question 4, the ballot question to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, as the question to be studied in part because of a feeling that the question could generate more confusion among voters than the other three questions and because of the broad interest in the topic.

“The high profile of the question and the degree of public interest in it means the statement that the citizens panel produces will get a lot of attention. It is a very complicated issue,” said Rep. Jonathan Hecht, D-Watertown, who helped launch the new effort.


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