Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

Opponents of Massachusetts Marijuana Initiative Accidentally Advertise a Spoof of Themselves

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The official voters' guide that was mailed to every household in Massachusetts beginning last week includes a Web address for the No on Question 3 committee, which is urging voters to reject a ballot initiative that would legalize the medical use of marijuana and authorize dispensaries where patients can obtain it. The address, logically enough, is votenoonquestion3.org, but the committee settled on that name without bothering to register it. Whoops. On Tuesday a savvy satirist registered the URL, where you can now find Onion-esque items with headlines such as "FACT: Marijuana Is the Gateway Drug to Twinkies," "FACT: No Marijuana User Has Ever Been Successful" (above a collage of famous pot smokers' photos), and "Elementary School Counselor Speaks Out Against Medical Marijuana" (quoting Mr. Mackey, the guidance counselor on South Park). No on Question 3 spokesman (and former ONDCP official) Kevin Sabet told The Boston Globe, "It's funny and upsetting, I guess, at the same time." No, it's just funny.

Sabet's committee settled on a different URL, mavotenoonquestion3.com, making sure to register it this time. The official site seems like a pale knockoff of the satirical one, featuring headlines like "Teen Pot Use Linked to Later Decline in IQ" and "Protect Our Kids, Colorado Teacher Says." The corrected address is now listed in the online version of the voters' guide, but it was too late to fix the paper version. That's too bad for Sabet et al., because I suspect the voters they are most likely to persuade have a strong preference for paper. But if so, maybe they won't bother to check out the website.

The Globe notes that the No on Question 3 campaign has managed to collect all of $600 so far, compared to the $1 million or so that supporters of the initiative have received from Peter Lewis, a longtime patron of drug policy reform.