NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

November 7, 2012

Voters approve use of medical marijuana, auto repair question

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts residents approved measures yesterday that legalized medical marijuana and required automakers to provide car owners and independent repair shops with access to their diagnostic systems.

The medical marijuana law eliminates state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by people with cancer, hepatitis C, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions.

Supporters say marijuana eases the suffering of people with debilitating diseases. Opponents argued that the law was ripe for abuse and fraud. They fear there’s no effective way to regulate marijuana dispensaries to make sure only sick patients get the drug. And they say they saw Tuesday’s ballot question as the next step toward full legalization of marijuana.

In 2008, Massachusetts decriminalized possession of marijuana in amounts under 1 ounce.

Approval of the “right to repair” measure Tuesday came on the same day a compromise right-to-repair law took effect in the state. The compromise was passed by the Legislature in July but came too late for the question to be removed from the ballot.

The ballot question would supersede the compromise law. Both require all new cars sold in the state include onboard diagnostic and repair information systems. The ballot question calls for the requirement by 2015, while the law gives the industry until 2018. It’s unclear whether legislators will revisit the issue in the next session.

The votes on a ballot question that would legalize physician assisted suicide for terminally ill patients were still being counted as of press time.

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