The Boston Archdiocese believes that increased drug use in its area has posed a threat to the Catholic Church's social service and health programs. As a result, the church has invested $850,000 in the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, which is a campaign that was set up to fight the passage of Question 4, a proposed state ballot that seeks to legalize marijuana.
Surprisingly, even with $850,000 the church has still not even come close to investing half of what those who support the passage of Question 4 have invested in helping the ballot become a success.
Insofar as where the church's money is expected to be distributed in particular, it is expected that it will go to funding an existing advertising campaign. Church officials have tried to help their cause along by sending materials to both parishes and schools arguing against Question 4.
The amount of the donation made by the church surprised many, as the Cardinal was saying just last week that the archdiocese would only be investing a small amount of money to oppose the ballot. However, a spokesman for the church, Terrence Donilon, said that the Cardinal changed his mind the more he thought and prayed on the issue.
Donilon went on to say that the Cardinal believed that fighting a stronger fight was the right thing to do because the ballot goes against everything they have been trying to do in helping people. Donilon confirmed that the money did not come from church-related programs or from the parish's collection basket. Instead, it came from a discretionary but unrestricted ministry fund.
Those who join the church in the fight against Question 4's passage are concerned about the opioid addiction epidemic that exists right now, especially that which directly affects their state. They are concerned about marijuana being the gateway drug that will lead users to try additional, harder drugs. They also worry that "edibles," which are food products that have a cannabis additive, could potentially encourage children to try marijuana.
Those in favor of the passage of Question 4, however, say that their goal is to take marijuana out of the criminals' hands and regulate and tax its market. Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the group YES on 4, says that while he and his group feel that the church's positions is "based on unfounded assumptions and junk science," he concedes that the church has the freedom to invest their money in whatever they want to invest it in.
Borghesani also added that he felt the church was unaware of the fact that people's lives have been ruined for being arrested with marijuana – a lesser substance – and that those people tend to be, disproportionately, people of color.
Question 4 will be put to a vote on November 8 – Election Day. As of now, polls show that it is likely that voters will back the proposal and that it will pass, with a lead of 49 percent in favor to 42 percent against.