Ballot Question Debate #4: Legalizing Marijuana

Photograph by Lucy Kim

By Lucy Kim

News Reporter

On Monday, November 7, Newton South held the last of its four debates, tackling the last ballot question: should marijuana be legalized in Massachusetts?

Disregarding their personal opinions, junior Andrew D’Annolfo argued for the legalization of marijuana, while senior Nikolas Lazar argued against the initiative.

Lazar started the debate by stating that question four not only seems appealing to children with the sales of edibles, but allows people to grow marijuana in homes and thus “will create a significant budget deficit to the Massachusetts legislature.”

Along with this economic disadvantage, legalizing marijuana, as Lazar explains, is not the method Massachusetts should implement to control the drug.  

“Question four will allow the market for everything, from edibles to regular marijuana,” Lazar said. “Overall, this ballot question provides more cons than it does pros, and while we need to evolve on this issue, this question simply is not the way to do it.”

However, D’Annolfo argued that legalizing marijuana will not only cause economic benefits, but also ensure the safety of Massachusetts citizens.

D’Annolfo claimed that marijuana does not cause severe harm to humans by comparing death rates from Massachusetts to other states that have already legalized.

“Colorado and Washington did not experience increased crime rates, and they did not experience increased DUI rates,” D’Annolfo said. “In fact, in Colorado, DUI fatalities reached an all time low when marijuana was legalized, as well as violent crime rates.”

When both debaters were asked what the moral and ethical pros and cons are, Lazar answered that though this ballot question remains a morally and ethically contentious issue, a voter’s ethic stance should not be the main reason for voting yes or no.

“I don’t oppose this ballot question because of my morals or ethics,” Lazar said. “I oppose it because of the fact that the tax rate will be significantly lower and because the ballot question itself is flawed.”

Moreover, D’Annolfo answered the same question by stating that though he partially agrees with Lazar, the tax rate for marijuana if legalized is not a fixed rate.

“Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, the states that have legalized, have done the exact same thing,” D’Annolfo said. “They had a flat tax that they thoroughly stated inside the ballot and then based on that, whether they want revenue or not, increased.”

Lazar concluded the debate by emphasizing that the legalization of marijuana will only cause harm to citizens and lower tax rates.

Countering his opponent, D’Annolfo ended his argument by expressing that “we have to come to accept that this substance is becoming legal.”