Yes and no on Question 4

The reviews are in and it appears the view is near-universal – Question 4, as written, is a dumpster fire that would legalize having and using pot but not the ability to sell it immediately. Many also agree it would give the marijuana industry a heavy hand in fashioning regulations they will operate under.

But where the state’s major media players differ on the referendum is on whether or not it should pass. The Boston Herald calls for a “no” vote, citing the ballot question’s “exceedingly complex” wording and individual pieces of the proposed legislation such as the low tax rate that would be imposed as well as the lack of any kind of scientific test to measure marijuana intoxication in drivers.

“It therefore has no place on the ballot as drafted, but since it’s there the appropriate thing for Massachusetts voters to do is vote NO,” says the tabloid’s editorial board. The Lowell Sun has also come out against the question for many of the same reasons, likening it to Obamacare because “it’s replete with unintended consequences.”

The Boston Globe cites the same problems with Question 4 but urges passage nonetheless, saying legislators can tackle all the problems when they return to work after the election. The Globe rejects arguments that lawmakers can fashion a better bill from scratch if the referendum fails, saying they had numerous chances and never stepped up to the plate before. This, the editorial board says, puts their feet to the fire with voter approval.

“If the political leaders of the Commonwealth showed even the slightest interest in legalization, it would probably make sense to wait for lawmakers to produce a better-crafted proposal than the current ballot measure,” says the editorial. “But Question 4 is all we’ve got.”

Globe columnist Joan Vennochi wrote a strong anti-legalization column on the op-ed page that runs just below the paper’s legalize-it editorial. Like the Herald and many opponents of Question 4, Vennochi cites the ham-handed crafting of the bill and the free rein the expectant billion-dollar marijuana industry will have in overseeing itself.

“This is an industry-driven mess of a proposal,” Vennochi writes. “That’s why I’m voting against it.”

It’s not at all unusual for the two major Boston papers to come down on opposite sides of such a polarizing issue. What’s head-scratching is they grab onto the same arguments to make their respective cases. But the Globe’s reasoning is a little more confusing, basically calling for passage of a referendum and then gutting it and remaking it.

With little suspense from the state’s voters on the presidential election and little in the way of legislative races to excite the populace, the ballot questions will be the ones to draw people to the polls. Question 4 is, undoubtedly, the most contentious issue on the ballot, probably even more so than the referendum to lift the charter school cap.

What happens in Massachusetts on the question will have consequences nationally as five other states are contemplating legalization. This could be a harbinger of what will happen throughout the country. And that won’t likely be a mixed message.



Conservative journalist Ira Stoll asks whether Gov. Charlie Baker’s speech this week at the Manhattan Institute in New York might have been a signal of bigger ambitions. (Boston Herald)

A white supremacist group says it will join a rally planned for next week by the Gun Owners’ Action League to protest a judicial nominee who worked under Attorney General Maura Healey, whose recent ruling on “copycat” assault weapons has angered the gun group. A Herald editorial urges GOAL to call off the protest to avoid “guilt by association” with the extremist hate group.


Framingham Town Meeting will take up a proposal to cut the number of seats in the representative body from 216 to 162. (MetroWest Daily News)

Boo. Norwell selectmen turned down a petition from middle school students seeking to move trick-or-treating from Monday to Saturday so they can stay out later. (Patriot Ledger)


The Pentagon pauses an effort to claw back bonuses improperly given to California National Guard members. (Governing)


In key US Senate races across the country, 85 percent of the campaign funds are coming from out of state. (Gloucester Times)

Catholic bishops have largely had little to say about Donald Trump’s behavior toward women, comments about immigrants, and other “unprecedented breaches of civility.” (Boston Globe)

Thinkin’ ‘bout a revolution? Apparently, some Trump voters are if Hillary Clinton wins. (New York Times)

James Pindell says Clinton’s field operation in New Hampshire is leaving Trump in the dust. (Boston Globe)

The latest batch of hacked emails from Wikileaks show campaign officials — even daughter Chelsea Clinton — were concerned about the source of foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s moneymaking speeches and their impact on Hillary Clinton’s run. (New York Times)

Cher plans to headline an election night event for Clinton in Boston. (MassLive)

Thirty Massachusetts mayors are opposing the charter school ballot question. (MassLive)

Passage by Boston voters on November 8 of the Community Preservation Act tax surcharge would mean less money for other communities that have passed the measure from the state account that provides a partial match of local funds. (Boston Herald)

The US Pirate Party, whose most organized chapter is in the Bay State, is buoyed by the potential success of their counterpart in Iceland and hope to lure Edward Snowden to run as the party’s nominee down the line. (U.S. News & World Report)


Harvard University dining service workers ratified a new five-year contract following a union strike that was seen as a big victory for labor. (Boston Globe)

Twitter is preparing to lay off 9 percent of its workforce. #bummer (Time)

Credit card companies are issuing new plastic at breakneck speed, with lots of rewards programs to lure new cardholders. (Boston Globe)

Per-capita consumption of seafood rose by nearly a pound last year to the highest point since 2010 and the biggest jump in a quarter century mainly because of increased catch limits, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Associated Press) NOAA reports that fish landings nationally were up but the value of the catch declined slightly. (Gloucester Times)

A new boutique bank is planned for Boston that will target millennials. (Boston Globe)


Somerville voters will be asked on Election Day to approve a tax increase to fund the most expensive school building project in state history, a $257 million new Somerville High School. (Boston Globe)

MIT’s new startup initiative, The Engine, aims to get innovative ideas dealing with major societal problems to the venture capital stage faster. (WBUR)

Quincy officials shut off four water fountains at three schools after testing discovered lead above the acceptable level. (Patriot Ledger)


Neighborhood Health Plan, the largest Medicaid insurer in the state, has stopped taking new patients who are enrolled in the program, citing the losses it is sustaining in covering them. (Boston Globe)

A state-funded needle exchange program in Brockton that had received the backing of Mayor Bill Carpenter is now under fire after officials learned that the program gives out syringes without receiving used needles in return. (The Enterprise)

A Falmouth physician suffering from advanced prostate cancer filed a lawsuit asserting a constitutional right to have his doctor give permission to prescribe a lethal dose of medicine so that he can avoid suffering a painful death. (Boston Globe)

A federal task force of experts says too many women stop breastfeeding too early and urged doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to do more to convince them to continue the practice for the first full year after birth. (Los Angeles Times)


An Orange Line train motor overheated at Back Bay Station and led passengers to break the windows of a train to escape the smoke build-up. (Boston Globe) Boston city councilors Michelle Wu and Josh Zakim jumped on social media to berate the T and call for more funding for the beleaguered system. (Boston Globe)

The MBTA has replaced most of its senior human resource officials after discovering that about 1 in 5 T employees had been incorrectly billed for health and retirement benefits. (Boston Globe)


The Access Northeast natural gas pipeline is on life support or maybe even dead after Connecticut drops plans to pursue more gas imports into the region. Connecticut backed off after the pipeline’s preferred financing mechanism was declared illegal in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. (CommonWealth)

Kitesurfers continue to be rebuffed by the Cape Cod National Seashore in their efforts to ease restrictions limiting the sport in Wellfleet because of piping plover nesting. (Cape Cod Times)


The Wynn casino in Everett sets June 3, 2019, as its opening date. (Boston Globe)


Former Dracut selectman Cathy Richardson admits to sufficient facts on five counts of animal cruelty. Her case, which derailed her chances for reelection, was continued without a finding for three years. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Bristol District Attorney has cleared an off-duty Plymouth County sheriff in the fatal shooting of a deranged Taunton man who went on a stabbing rampage and murdered two people, including a man who tried to stop him. (Taunton Gazette) The report points out the assailant had been discharged from a hospital hours earlier with no prescription for medication. (Boston Herald)


The New York Times is hosting an election night event and charging guests $250 apiece to attend. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

Fox News host Megyn Kelly is reportedly seeking a new contract worth $20 million a year. (Wall Street Journal)

Adam Davidson, who wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine entitled, “What happened to Worcester?returned to town to explain his thinking. The magazine article prompted a Download item in CommonWealth. Davidson now works for The New Yorker. (Telegram & Gazette)

Dan Kennedy posits the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger is the dawn of the new media age but that’s not necessarily a good thing. (WGBH)