Amherst, MA: Amherst voters approved a non-binding referendum on March 28 that asks local police to "deprioritize" marijuana enforcement and also urges state and federal lawmakers to repeal anti-marijuana laws. The vote, which passed with 1,659 in favor and 981 against, is the second time Amherst voters have passed such a measure -- in 1976, a town meeting approved an article calling for marijuana legalization.
The question voters approved reads: "Shall the following proposal be passed? In Affirmation and expansion of the Amherst Town Meeting vote of May 12, 1976 (Article 52, Part 2), we urge the members of the Selectboard and the Town Manager to persuade our state representative, state senator, U.S. representative and U.S. senators to repeal the prohibition of marijuana; and, in the interim, before repeal has been effected, we urge the Amherst Police Department to deprioritize the enforcement of laws covering the possession of marijuana against persons over the age of eighteen."
In addition to the proposal, Anne Awad, an employee of the Massachusetts Board of Public Health and a supporter of the marijuana proposal, beat incumbent Hill Boss in the race for a seat on the Amherst Select Board 2189 to 1429. Awad's position on the marijuana proposal gained her strong support among Amherst students. Turnout was 20.4%, which is considered strong.
"I don't know anyone who believes that arresting people for simple possession of marijuana is less harmful for them than marijuana itself, said Richard Evans, Esq., who serves on the boards of directors of both DRCNet and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Most people recognize that the worst thing about marijuana for adults is that it can get you arrested."
Visit the U-Mass Amherst Cannabis Reform Coalition, one of the organizations that petitioned to get the referendum on the ballot, at http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~verdant/. Further information is available on the MassLive web site, at http://www.masslive.com/news/pstories/hf329ele.html.