bay state repeal

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Massachusetts: Marijuana Legalization Drive Gets A Little Clearer

CampaignToRegulateMarijuanaLikeAlcoholMassachusetts2016

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The push to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts got a little less complicated this week. Voters had faced the possibility of two separate pro-legalization questions on next year's ballot, but now only one group's initiative is still standing.

The Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) on Tuesday said it had submitted enough signatures -- more than 64,750 -- to the secretary of state to move forward in getting a proposed law in front of voters, reports Adam Vaccaro at Boston.com. If the signatures are deemed valid, the question will go to the Massachusetts Legislature; if the Legislature fails to act by May, CRMLA wilal need about 11,000 more signatures to make the ballot for November.aaaa

The leader at Bay State Repeal, a competing ballot question, on Wednesday night conceded his group hadn't gathered enough signatures to qualify. "We didn't make it, Steve Epstein said.

The two groups have pitched different approaches to legalization. The CRMLA, backed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), is of the "tax and regulate" philosophy with pages and pages of tight rules, including a new state commission and an excise tax on cannabis sales.

Massachusetts: Legislature Considers Repealing Cannabis Prohibition

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Last week the Associated Press reported on the introduction of H. 1561 in the Massachusetts Legislature; the bill would legalize recreational cannabis consumption and sales.

"Bay State Repeal, the ballot-initiative committee aiming to draft the least restrictive citizen initiative repealing marijuana prohibition in 2016, is pleased 15 legislators are seriously considering marijuana law reform," the organization announced in a Wednesday press release.

"We are also pleased the bill permits home cultivation in any amount as long as minors have no access to the cultivation site and there is no intent to sell," the statement reads. "For Bay State Repeal, the right to grow cannabis at home is a key provision of any meaningful reform, both as a matter of civil rights and protection from overzealous law enforcement and as a check on excessive prices.

"We are less pleased to see that the proposed law creates a 'Cannabis Commission' to regulate cultivation and commerce in marijuana for profit," the release reads. "A new bureaucracy is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a mandate for overregulation. A better solution is to assign any needed licensing authority to the Department of Revenue. In addition, the proposed tax on recreational cannabis is excessive and becomes more so over the first four years.

Massachusetts: Activists Push For Full Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts voters have already approved medical marijuana, and have decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis for recreational use by adults. Now activists are pushing for the full legalization of marijuana for adults, putting it on equal footing with alcohol and cigarettes.

The group Bay State Repeal said it plans to put a proposal on the 2016 general election ballot, reports Steve LeBlanc at The Associated Press. The group said it plans to first test various versions of the measure by placing non-binding referendums on next year's midterm ballot in about a dozen districts.

The non-binding questions will help gauge voter support for different versions of the binding initiative for 2016, according to Bay State Repeal.

Massachusetts voters in 2008 approved a ballot initiative decriminalizing adult possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, making it a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine.

Of course, there are the usual naysayers. Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett claimed cannabis can lead young people to hard drugs and other harmful behaviors.

"I'm not saying everyone who tries marijuana becomes a heroin addict, but the medical information is irrefutable that kids who start smoking marijuana are more likely to have substance abuse problems as adults," Blodgett, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, claimed.

Massachusetts: Bay State Repeal Hopes To Get Rid Of Marijuana Prohibition In 2016

BayStateRepeal

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Cannabis activists are working to put full marijuana law repeal before Massachusetts voters during the next presidential election, in 2016.

"We won't have to have it on the ballot again after we've finally repealed the prohibition," said activist William Downing, treasuer of ballot committee Bay State Repeal, reports Andy Metzger at MassLive.com.

Repeal, unlike legalization, doesn't create more laws around cannabis -- it repeals all those already on the books.

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to restrict marijuana, according to Downing, prohibiting doctors from prescribing cannabis in 1913, well before federal marijuana laws were passed in 1937. Downing, an activist since 1989, said he sees parallels between the marijuana movement and the people who repealed alcohol prohibition.

Bay State Repeal wants to put non-binding "public policy" questions about getting rid of the marijuana laws before voters in 2014, before writing the binding language for the 2016 ballot as an initiative petition.

"A lot more people vote generally when there's a presidential election and we do better when a lot more people vote because this is a populist issue," Downing said.

Predictably, "family" and "anti-drug" groups oppose the measure.

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