UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School, WBUR, Boston Globe to Host Ballot Debate on Marijuana

Office of Communications | October 03, 2016
UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School, WBUR, Boston Globe to Host Ballot Debate on Marijuana

These ballot questions could have -- in very different ways -- a profound impact on Massachusetts residents.

UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, WBUR, and The Boston Globe will host a debate Tuesday on whether to legalize the possession and eventually the sale of marijuana by adults. This is the last in a series of weekly debates exploring in depth the four statewide ballot questions to be decided by Massachusetts voters in the November 8 election.

Jim Borghesani, from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, will speak in favor of the measure. State Senator Jason Lewis will speak in opposition.

The two will square off in an hourlong debate broadcast live on WBUR’s “Radio Boston,” from 3 to 4 p.m., held at the McCormack Theatre on the UMass Boston campus. The event will be livestreamed by the sponsors at,, and

The debate will feature former state Representative Marty Walz, currently principal of Marty Walz and Associates, on behalf of Great Schools Massachusetts, and Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson on behalf of Save our Schools. WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti will be joined by The Boston Globe’s Joshua Miller to moderate the debate.

The debate is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

The debates on the other ballot questions were as follows:

Tuesday, September 13 – Question 2: would raise the cap on charter schools
Tuesday, September 20 – Question 3: would regulate the treatment of farm animals
Tuesday, September 27 – Question 1: would allow for an additional slots gambling parlor

Watch all the debates on the UMass Boston YouTube channel.

This series of debates is intended to raise the profile and further the discussion of the important ballot questions facing Massachusetts voters, as ballot questions often get little public notice.

“Each of these ballot questions will impact our communities, our children, and our livelihoods, and we know voters will want to be as informed as possible when they vote in November,” said David Cash, dean of the McCormack Graduate School. “We strive to be a civics catalyst and are delighted to help provide a forum for the public to dive deeper into the important questions of policy that they will decide.” 

“WBUR is pleased to collaborate with UMass Boston's McCormack Graduate School and The Boston Globe on these important public debates because of our firm belief in promoting civic dialogue and public discourse,” said Charles Kravetz, general manager of WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station. “We’re particularly pleased to provide live broadcasts of debates on the four questions which Massachusetts citizens will vote in November through Radio Boston, our vibrant daily local afternoon program, and livestream through”

"These ballot questions could have -- in very different ways -- a profound impact on Massachusetts residents," said Brian McGrory, editor of The Boston Globe. "We think it's critically important to be part of this effort to help inform voters and thoroughly explore both sides of each issue."

Since 1990, the number of ballot questions in Massachusetts has varied from one to eight, with an average of four on each biennial ballot. All four of this year’s questions are initiative petitions that would enact new laws. The Massachusetts Constitution also provides for two other types of ballot questions: initiative petitions that would amend the state Constitution, and referenda that would repeal existing laws. Massachusetts is among 26 states and the District of Columbia that allow some form of initiative or referendum. Since 1990 in Massachusetts, 27 of 50 ballot questions, or just over half, have been approved by the voters.

Audience members are encouraged to arrive early for the live broadcast. Doors at the McCormack Theatre open for seating at 2:30 p.m. and close at 2:45. For travel and parking information, visit

Tags: election 2016 , election ballot debates , mccormack graduate school

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