Natasha K. Mascarenhas
Natasha K. Mascarenhas



Boston voters share hopes, concerns on legalized weed in Mass.

Election approaching fast, many remain divided on Question 4 on the ballot

By Natasha Mascarenhas 

Linda Conley, a dusty-blonde woman with a seemingly-permanent smirk, loves weed, if she’s being “absolutely frank.”

The single mother, Boston Duck Tour guide, former welfare researcher for the government, and one-time toilet cleaner, wants marijuana to be legalized.

And her wishes may become a reality within a week.

On Nov. 8, Election Day, Massachusetts voters will vote on Question 4, which decides on the legalization of recreational usage of marijuana within the state. The substance would be regulated similarly to alcohol, according to the  Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative.

Conley, a Bostonian who describes herself as “closer to 60 [years old] than to 50” is not a registered voter because she wants to stay off the grid.

Still, she shared her thoughts on marijuana as a lesser evil compared to alcohol.

“I have friends that never start their day without [weed],” she said, at the Duck Tour booth in Faneuil Hall, “and they’re in social work!”

Conley and other Bostonians, recently interviewed in Faneuil Hall and the Boston Common, appear to agree on one thing on Question 4: neutrality is not an option. Instead, people of all ages seem to have picked their side of the legalization debate.

Brooke Esplin, 21, will not be supporting the initiative, based on her experiences: the Arizona-born student was once a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Spain.

   “[Marijuana] deadens a lot of emotions,” she said, sitting on a bench at the Boston Common. “From my personal experience, I’ve learned that your most valuable emotions, come from the deepest pain.”

    Esplin experienced depression while in Spain. Dealing with stress was important, she explained. She does not support using substances to numb feelings.

    “I’ll take a root beer instead, and be just fine,” Esplin laughed.

    Rafaela Sanchez, 66, a therapist from Boston, said legalization will impact her daily walks in the Boston Common.

    “The stench is terrible,” the small-statured woman said, walking to the Government Center station. “Absolutely terrible. And it’s a drug.”

In contrast, a majority of those interviewed accepted marijuana legalization, supporting a recent Boston Globe and Suffolk University poll.

George Munger, 25, from Bay Village, just submitted his voting ballot at City Hall when he shared why he was pro-legalization.

“With an official venue, I think [marijuana] would be a beneficial taxable substance,” said Munger, who identifies with the Democratic party.

He has worked with students for the past three years, as a coach for the Tufts University Rowing team. He believes legalization will not “make a huge difference of usage” in Boston’s student population.

Meghan Marshall, 18 and a student at Berklee School of Music, supported the recreational use of marijuana, to an extent.

“As long as I can get where I need to be without getting second-hand high,” she said, proposing zoning out public areas. “Then, I’m not concerned.”

Eric Auld, 30 and an English professor at Fisher College, endorses legalization, because of marijuana’s positives compared to negatives.

“It’s up to you if you want to participate, I’m just surprised a state as puritanical as Massachusetts is even considering this,” he said.

Evan Bradley, 23, a photographer for the City of Boston, laughed at the scent of marijuana while sitting in the Common.

He plans to vote yes, even though it won’t impact him directly.

The Northeastern graduate considers the city his source of inspiration; Bradley often takes pictures of Boston architecture and people.

He’d explained that the city could possibly use the tax revenue from marijuana sales toward public transportation.

“I mean, it would give a whole new meaning to the Green Line,” he laughed.