Question 2: Decriminalize marijuana possession

Ballot Question 2 would replace the criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana with a system of civil penalties, and would exclude information from the state's criminal record system. Offenders under 18 would have their parents notified. Click on the videos and links below to learn about the issue.

What are my voting options?

A Yes vote would make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense.

A No vote would make no change to the drug laws.

The context

The proposition is part of a broader national effort and echoes local initiatives around the country to relax penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. It seeks to match marijuana possession laws in 12 states that have adopted some form of decriminalization. In 2006, 6,902 people were arrested in Massachusetts for marijuana possession -- more than 38 percent of all the drug arrests in the state that year, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports.
-- DAVID ABEL
PRO Proponents say the initiative would maintain the state's existing penalties for growing, trafficking, or driving under the influence, while ensuring that those caught with less than an ounce of pot would avoid the taint of a criminal record. They note that marijuana possession arrests and convictions are records that remain visible to many employers, even when the charges are dismissed.
CONOpponents of the initiative argue that decriminalizing marijuana possession would send the wrong message to youths. They say it would promote drug use and benefit drug dealers at a time when marijuana has become more potent than ever. They also warn it would increase violence on the streets and safety hazards in the workplace and cause the number of car crashes to rise.

GLOBE COVERAGE

Top law enforcers call for 'no' vote on marijuana question

Local law enforcement officials have begun a final assault on Tuesday's ballot question to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, saying a "yes" vote would only empower drug dealers who resort to guns and violence in their trade.

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SURVEY

How do you plan on voting?

Will you vote yes or no on Question 2? Cast your vote, and see how others feel.
DISCUSS

Your thoughts on Question 2?

Should marijuana possession be a criminal or civil penalty? What are your thoughts?