Following months of heated debate, Massachusetts citizens passed the legalization of medical marijuana on Tuesday’s ballot questions, while the outcome of physician-assisted suicide was still too close to call in the early morning hours on Wednesday.
Question 3, Medical Use of Marijuana, passed with 63 percent of the vote. The legislation ended state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualified patients. A patient must be diagnosed with a medical condition and obtain written certification from a physician to prove that the patient would likely benefit from medical use of marijuana.
Seventeen other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana, while Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania still have laws pending, according to ProCon.org, an independent, nonpartisan medical marijuana charity.
The same measure failed on the Arkansas ballot Tuesday.
Medical marijuana has sparked controversy in the Commonwealth for months. Groups such as the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance protested the ballot question in the months preceding Election Day.
“This is a loss for Massachusetts,” said Heidi Heilman, president of the alliance. “We were up against a million-dollar campaign with little to no resources, but we did an enormous amount to get our message out.”
Heilman said she is worried the passage of this law will create problems for the Bay State.
“We are going to see what we can do to put regulations in place because we are talking about a law that has very little restrictions,” Heilman said. “The mess of it has just begun and Mass. has to deal with this. “
The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition supported the ballot question.
“This is a fantastic victory,” said Bill Downing, treasurer of MassCann. “We are very happy about this.”
Downing said the residents of Massachusetts have voted for compassion rather than fear.
“Even with medical marijuana legalized, the group is looking ahead to their ultimate goal of the legalization of recreational marijuana,” Downing said.
Question 2, known as Prescribing Medication to End Life, was still too close to make a determination on the vote at press time. Question 2, which faced significant contention, allows physicians to prescribe medication that, when ingested, causes death.
Under the legislation, patients must be medically determined to be mentally capable of making and communicating a life-ending decision and have an incurable illness that will cause death within six months, voluntarily express their wish to die and have the physician wait at least 15 days before asking the patient again to allow the patient to rescind their request.
Question 1 on the ballot, the Availability of Motor Vehicle Repair, passed with 86 percent of the vote. The first question will pass legislation prohibiting any motor vehicle manufacturer, beginning with model year 2015, from selling or leasing a new vehicle without allowing the owner to have access to diagnostic and repair information.
For any car models before model year 2015, manufacturers have to make the information available for purchase for the owners under the legislation.
Art Kinsman, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, said these results sent a message to the manufacturers.
“Car owners want to have control over their vehicle,” Kinsman said. “They sent a message to manufacturers that they are the owner of their own car.”
Kinsman said he is looking forward to see how this law could affect the rest of the country.
But the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers opposed this law.
“With passage of Question 1, Massachusetts is now in the unfortunate position of having two conflicting Right to Repair laws on the books — the compromise law and the ballot question,” said Dan Gage, director of communications and public affairs of Auto Alliance. Gage said having two laws in existence for this issue is complex.
“This creates confusion and uncertainty for automakers, repairers and consumers.
This is a difficult and complex issue,” said Gage. “We hope to work with legislators to fully reinstate that joint agreement as soon as possible.”