Massachusetts Marijuana Advocates Build Momentum

Legally grown marijuana in Colorado. (Photo by Brett Levin/Flickr)
Written by BU News Service

By Max Rodriguez
BU News Service

Advocates petitioning to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts said they have collected over 100,000 signatures in support of a bill to place the question in next year’s election ballot.

Communications Director Jim Borghesani, for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, said he is confident he will see the option to legalize recreational pot on the ballot.

Borghesani said they submitted all signatures to the commonwealth’s Secretary of State’s office for certification and are now in the review process with state legislators.

The campaign cannot celebrate yet. Lawmakers must review the bill and hold a legislative hearing with those who are pro-legalization and those who oppose.

Borghesani said he expects legislators to turn the bill away, which means that the campaign must collect over 10,000 more signatures in order for the bill to live.

Borghesani said the campaign is not slowing down.

“We have high confidence the question will be in next year’s ballot. The polls show that people want marijuana to be legal,” said Borghesani. “We are not advocates of unrestrained marijuana usage, there will be limits, it is going to be regulated and taxed.”

The regulations Borghesani speaks of would be similar to the ones imposed on alcohol.

Those 21 and older would be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow a limited amount in their homes. The regulations would also oversee licenses from retail outlets and create a commission similar to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, which would supervise the cultivation of cannabis.

The proposed plan would also create a 3.75 percent excise tax on retail marijuana sales, in addition to the standard state tax and local government taxation.

A poll from the Boston NPR affiliate WBUR showed 49 percent of those surveyed were in favor of making marijuana legal for recreational purposes. Forty-two percent voted that it should not be legal, and 9 percent refused to answer.

Massachusetts has slowly been moving in the direction to legalize marijuana. In the 2008 election, 65 percent of voters decided to decriminalize small possessions of marijuana, making possession of an ounce a civil offense with a $100 fine. In the 2012 elections, 63 percent of Massachusetts’ voters opted to legalize medical marijuana.

Proponents say marijuana legalization will combat underground sales and would allow customers to know the exact origin of their pot. But some of the state’s top politicians remain opposed.

In November, Gov. Charlie Baker spoke on the opioid addiction the commonwealth is facing. He said said he will not support recreational marijuana.

“I’ve made it very clear that I am going to vote against the legalization of recreational marijuana questions,” said Baker.

Bonnie McGilpin, a spokesperson for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, said Walsh also is opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana and would campaign against a ballot question.

McGilpin said it was premature to discuss any campaign efforts. However, Walsh previously stated that if no other lawmaker steps up, he would lead the campaign against the vote to legalize marijuana if the question makes it to the November election.

In spite of executive opposition, there are lawmakers in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.

Massachusetts Rep. Jay Livingstone said via email that he is expecting to see a marijuana question on the ballot, given that the Attorney General’s office has approved four initiative petitions.

Livingstone praised the decriminalization of marijuana from the 2008 election.

But despite lesser consequences, Livingstone argues people still have to interact with criminals if they want to purchase marijuana.

“To buy marijuana is still a crime that causes individuals to interact with criminal enterprises. This makes no sense,” Levingstone said. “We should legalize marijuana so that law enforcement can focus on more serious crimes.”

Borghesani argues marijuana is not a gateway drug. Instead, the gateway is purchasing it from underground dealers who have access to harsher drugs. He said people who come in contact with dealers who sell other drugs bring more danger than buying from a regulated dispensary.

Marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law. However, almost half of the states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and four states have legalized recreational marijuana.

5 Comments

  • Does Gov. Charlie Baker also oppose marriage? Why not? 50% of all marriages end in divorce.

    Some people have a problem with drugs and they shouldn’t use them. Some people have a problem with relationships and they shouldn’t get married. But Weed no more causes drug abuse than marriage causes divorce.

  • Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

    Legalize Nationwide!

    • The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

      Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

      The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

      Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

      Even The President of the United States has used marijuana. Has it hurt his chances at succeeding in life? If he had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may have very well still been in prison today! Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record. Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

      The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

      Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

      Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

      • In the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are “stoners” and “dopers” that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society.

        In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about “saving us all” from the “evils” of marijuana use.

        Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead of alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

        People who consume marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

        Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make them out to be. They are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

        Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives.

        Although that doesn’t mean a dam thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

        To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, advertises, and even glorifies alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

        There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long hard day than having a drink or two of alcohol.

        So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can’t enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes?

        We’ve worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

        Has a marijuana consumer ever forced you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force anybody not to either.

        Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon everybody else with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think you’re such prohibitionist hypocrites.

        Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

        • “Smoking marijuana is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol”

          http://rt.com/usa/234903-marijuana-safer-alcohol-deadly/

          “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say”

          “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say New study: We should stop fighting marijuana legalization and focus on alcohol and tobacco instead By Christopher Ingraham February 23

          Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

          Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.”

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/23/marijuana-may-be-even-safer-than-previously-thought-researchers-say/

          “The report discovered that marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Researchers were able to determine this by comparing the lethal doses with the amount of typical use. Through this approach, marijuana had the lowest mortality risk to users out of all the drugs they studied. In fact—because the numbers were crossed with typical daily use—marijuana is the only drug that tested as “low risk.”

          http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/02/scientific-reports-weed-114-safer-alcohol

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