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Keller @ Large: Panel Talks Marijuana Ballot Question

BOSTON (CBS) -- This November, Massachusetts voters will decide on ballot question 4, which would allow the use, possession, distribution, and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana by people 21 years old or older.

Francy Wade of the Vote Yes On Question 4 Campaign and Hannah Kane of the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts sat down with WBZ political analyst Jon Keller this week to debate the ballot question.

Wade said she supports full legalization of marijuana because it would get marijuana sales out of the black market and raise millions in state revenue.

"I'm urging people to vote yes on question 4 because I'm a mom, and I want to make it harder for teens to get their hands on marijuana," Wade said.

Kane said that full legalization is a bad idea for a variety of reasons, and that her bipartisan campaign is made up of Massachusetts voters who are concerned about those reasons.

"Primarily because it's a 24-page ballot initiative which was written by the marijuana industry for the marijuana industry," said Kane.

Wade cited a long-standing racial disparity in the enforcement of marijuana possession laws as one reason for full legalization.

"There is a 50-year racial disparity that, if you are a black person, you are 3.9 times more likely in Massachusetts to get arrested for possession than a white person," said Wade. "And usage rates are almost exactly the same."

Kane also disputed the idea that legalization would keep pot out of the hands of the youth.

"The reality is that 78 percent of people who use marijuana began in their youth," said Kane. "The reality is, when you have more access to marijuana, you have more youth use."

Kane and Wade also discussed whether marijuana was a gateway drug to opiate addiction or a possible solution to it.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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