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Faith leaders sign statement urging NO vote on Question 4

Posted: 11/3/2016

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The following statement was released Nov. 1 by more than 147 faith leaders in the Commonwealth across denominations in opposition to Question 4 that would legalize recreational marijuana on this year's ballot.

As faith leaders across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we urge all citizens to vote NO on Question 4 on Election Day, November 8th.

In the midst of an opioid epidemic, it is beyond reason that the Commonwealth would commercialize the sale of marijuana. It is important for our citizens to know the facts: this legislation was written by and for the billion-dollar marijuana industry. Ninety-six percent of the money supporting this proposal comes from out of state. If passed, the law would make it significantly difficult for local communities to try to opt out. It would authorize companies from outside of Massachusetts to legally sell marijuana that is 10 to 600 times more potent than that of past decades. We believe this will lead to greater addiction particularly for young people. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, let us not expose them to the unnecessary danger of shops selling packaged edible forms of marijuana including candy.

It is important to recognize that Massachusetts has already decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, so concerns about people being arrested for possession do not apply to this proposed law. Nor is there a rationale in tax revenues.

First, there is no amount of money that would justify the dangers of commercializing marijuana. Second, the expense of regulating it and funding the public safety and medical response to accidents and overdoses would far exceed the supposed tax revenue. Lastly, the cost and the grief to families from marijuana-related abuse is incalculable. An example is the tragic death of Massachusetts State Trooper Thomas Clardy earlier this year. The person charged with that motor vehicle fatality is alleged to have used marijuana before driving that day.

As faith leaders, we believe that our efforts as a society should be focused toward improving life for our citizens. A culture that encourages and promotes the use of drugs is failing its people. As the neighborhood pastors who tend your houses of worship, streets and hospital bedsides, who live in and know our local communities, we have seen the struggle with addiction and we have grieved with our people at the funerals. Each of us can recount the tragic stories of people whose drug addiction began with marijuana.

Question 4, if approved, will generate substantial profit for out-of-state drug marketers at the expense of the health, well-being and the lives of our families and loved ones. Please join us in voting NO on Question 4, for the good of our Commonwealth and our people.