Mason Tvert

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Oregon: State May Declare Emergency Over Sessions Cannabis Comments

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon is considering declaring an emergency due to the threat of federal law enforcement of marijuana laws in states that have made the substance legal.

Senate Bill 863 passed last week; it would prohibit marijuana retailers from recording, retaining and transferring types of information that are contained on passport, driver license, military identification card or other ID that bears a picture of a person.

Dispensaries typically collect this type of information across the nation, but SB 863 requires marijuana retailers to destroy the type of information covered within 30 days of Governor Kate Brown signing off on the bill.

Section 4 of the bill states that on passage of the bill Oregon would declare an emergency in the face of threats of federal enforcement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, said the intentions of the current administration are unclear, bit it's good to be prepared.

U.S.: Fewer Teens Are Smoking Marijuana Despite Fears That Legalization Would lead To Increased Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A report released Tuesday by The Marijuana Policy Project says that fewer teenagers are smoking marijuana. The report should help invalidate the claims that marijuana legalization and reform lead to increased teen use.

The Monitoring the Future Survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) made the following points:

-Among 8th-graders, the rate of past-year marijuana use dropped significantly from 11.8% in 2015 to 9.4% in 2016, its lowest level since 1993. Past-month marijuana use also dropped significantly, from 6.5% in 2015 to 5.4% in 2016, and daily use dropped from 1.1% in 2015 to 0.7% in 2016.

-Among 10th- and 12th-graders, rates of past-year, past-month, and daily marijuana use remained relatively stable compared to last year.

-Rates of use among 12th-graders appear to be higher in states with medical marijuana laws than in states without them, but previous studies have found that rates of use were already higher prior to the adoption of such laws.

-Students’ perception of risk surrounding marijuana remained relatively stable from 2015 to 2016. The perception that marijuana is very easy or fairly easy to access declined slightly for 8th- and 10th-graders, and it increased slightly for 12th-graders.

Colorado: Teen Marijuana Use Dips After Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new survey released Monday showed that marijuana consumption by Colorado high school students has dipped slightly since the state first permitted recreational use by adults.

The biannual poll by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also showed the percentage of teens using marijuana in Colorado was lower than the national average among the age group.

Of the Colorado high school students surveyed in 2015, 21.2 percent had used marijuana during the preceding 30 days, down from 22 percent in 2011, the year before voters approved recreational use for adults over 21.

The rate of pot use by teens nationwide is slightly higher at 21.7 percent, the study showed.

“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization, with four of five high school students continuing to say they don't use marijuana, even occasionally,” the department said in a statement.

The department works with the University of Colorado and a citizens advisory committee to conduct the voluntary survey every two years. Approximately 17,000 students responded to the poll.

Voters in Colorado and three other states - Washington, Oregon and Alaska - have approved recreational pot sales to adults in recent years, and Colorado was the first state to open retail marijuana shops in 2014. Six other states are considering similar proposals.

Maine: Legalization Initiative Would Force Merchants To Hide Marijuana Magazines

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maine's Marijuana Legalization Act, which has qualified for November's ballot and is being sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), would require merchants to keep marijuana magazines behind the counter if their stores are open to customers younger than 21.

An almost identical provision which was part of a bill passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2013 was so blatantly unconstitutional that Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the state wouldn't enforce it, reports Jacob Sullum at Reason.com.

Yet, just three years later, MPP is asking Maine voters to approve the same restriction as the price they must pay for the state's "legalization" initiative.

The Marijuana Legalization Act which will be on the Maine ballot in November says "a magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses may be sold only in a retail marijuana store or behind the counter in an establishment where persons under 21 years of age are present."

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Certified For Ballot; Supporters Prepare To Gather Signatures

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The Ohio Ballot Board on Thursday certified an initiative that would establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana must now collect 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

The five-member board reviews proposed ballot measures to ensure they represent only one issue.

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“We plan to mobilize a large group of volunteers, and we’ll be enlisting the help of paid petitioners to meet the state’s sizeable signature requirement in the short amount of time we have,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the initiative.

“A lot of our volunteers are family members of patients or patients themselves, so they’re incredibly motivated," Tvert said. "The initiative process isn’t easy, but it pales in comparison to undergoing chemotherapy or witnessing your child have seizures on a daily basis.”

Ohio: Medical Marijuana Initiative Certified By Attorney General; Advances to Secretary of State

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The measure proposed by Ohioans for Medical Marijuana would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to legally access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday notified Ohioans for Medical Marijuana that he has certified the summary of the group’s proposed ballot initiative to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program and submitted it to the Ohio Secretary of State.

The attorney general confirmed the group submitted at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters and determined their initiative summary “is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

The summary and full text of the initiative are available online at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

The Ohio Ballot Board will now have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws. Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

“We’re pleased with the attorney general’s determination and appreciate his guidance during this process,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the initiative. “Ohio is one step closer to adopting a sensible medical marijuana law that ensures seriously ill people have safe and legal access to their medicine. We’re looking forward to hearing back from the secretary of state and getting our petition drive started as soon as possible.”

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Ohio: Attorney General Rejects Medical Marijuana Amendment

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Ohio Attorney General rejected a medical marijuana legalization amendment on Friday backed by the national group Marijuana Policy Project.

Attorney General Mike DeWine's job is to certify that the language in the petition is accurate in its summary of the amendment, not to judge the merit of the proposed amendment.

DeWine based his rejection on three weak points in the submission from Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, the political action committee formed by Marijuana Policy Project:

-The summary states that "tier 1" medical marijuana cultivation facility licenses are capped at 15, but the proposed amendment contains provisions for issuing additional licenses.

-The summary states that the amendment does not prevent a person from being penalized for "operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, train, or motorboat while impaired by marijuana," but the amendment says medical marijuana patients would not be considered impaired "solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of marijuana that appear in insufficient concentration to cause impairment."

-The summary says states there shall be additional ways to obtain patient registry identification cards under certain conditions after July 1, 2017, but the proposed amendment lists that date as Aug. 1, 2017.

Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said they will resubmit a revised petition next week.

"This is just part of Ohio's very rigorous initiative process, so it's not particularly surprising," Tvert said.

Ohio: Ohioans For Medical Marijuana Submit Initiative Petition To State Attorney General

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Backers of a proposed 2016 ballot measure to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio submitted their initiative petition to the Ohio Attorney General on Thursday with more than 2,000 signatures.

The office has 10 days to examine the official summary of the initiative and confirm the petition contains at least 1,000 valid signatures of Ohio voters. The petition will then be sent to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will have 10 days to review the measure and confirm it complies with Ohio initiative laws.

Initiative backers will then need to collect an additional 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio voters by early July in order to qualify for the November ballot.

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana, a campaign committee formed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), posted the full initiative text, the official initiative summary, and a Q&A with MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia on its website earlier this week at https://www.ohioansformmj.org/initiative.

“This initiative was drafted to ensure seriously ill Ohioans have safe and legal access to medical marijuana if their doctors believe it will alleviate their pain and suffering,” said MPP communications director Mason Tvert. “The one benefit of not already having a medical marijuana law is that we were able to incorporate the best practices and lessons learned from the 23 states that do have one.”

In summary, the initiative would:

Ohio: Details of 2016 Medical Marijuana Initiative To Be Released Tuesday

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Backers of a 2016 initiative effort to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in Ohio will release the details of the proposed ballot measure on Tuesday.

The full text of the initiative will be posted at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative at 9 a.m. ET, and the Marijuana Policy Project, which helped draft the initiative, will hold a teleconference.

WHAT: Release of 2016 Ohio medical marijuana initiative language and teleconference to discuss the details of the proposal and answer questions from members of the media

WHEN: Tuesday, March 1, initiative text will be posted online at 9 a.m. ET; teleconference at 10:30 a.m. ET

WHERE: Initiative text at https://ohioansformmj.org/initiative

WHO: Heather Azzi, MPP campaigns analyst
Rob Kampia, MPP executive director
Mason Tvert, MPP director of communications

Ohio: 3 of 4 Voters Support Making Medical Marijuana Legal

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About three out of four Ohio voters support amending the state constitution to make medical marijuana legal for patients with terminal or debilitating conditions, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling.

The survey of 672 randomly selected Ohio voters was conducted February 17-18, just as advocates are preparing to launch a campaign in support of a constitutional ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. It found 74 percent of voters in favor and only 22 percent opposed, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

“It’s become pretty common knowledge that marijuana can be incredibly beneficial in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for Ohioans for Medical Marijuana (OMM), a committee that has been formed to support the forthcoming initiative. “It’s not surprising that a vast majority of voters agree patients should be allowed to consume it if their doctors think it could be helpful.

"There are few laws still on the books that are as unpopular as those that prohibit sick and dying people from accessing medical marijuana,” Tvert said.

OMM is currently working with local advocates to draft the initiative and expects to initiate the petitioning process later this month. If the petition drive is successful, the measure will appear on the November ballot.

“Ohio’s current marijuana policy is antiquated and inhumane,” Tvert said. “We hope to give voters an opportunity to change that this November.

Colorado: Regulated Marijuana System Generated More Than $135 Million In Revenue For State

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Revenue Includes More Than $35 Million for School Construction Projects

Total revenue raised from 2015 surpassed original projections and far exceeded the costs associated with regulating the system

Colorado’s regulated marijuana system generated more than $135 million in revenue for the state in 2015, including more than $35 million for school construction projects, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

There were just under $588 million in adult-use marijuana sales in Colorado from January-December 2015, producing approximately $109.1 million in tax revenue in addition to $4.7 million in license and application fees. The state’s regulated medical marijuana system produced more than $11.4 million in tax revenue and $9.8 million in license and application fees.

In 2014, the state’s regulated marijuana system raised just over $76.1 million in total revenue, including about $56.2 million from adult-use marijuana tax revenue and fees and $19.9 million in medical marijuana tax revenue and fees.

“There are hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales taking place in every state,” said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Colorado is one of the few where those sales are being conducted by licensed, taxpaying businesses.”

Adult-use marijuana sales in Colorado are subject to the state’s standard 2.9 percent sales tax, plus a 10 percent special state sales tax. Additionally, wholesale transfers of adult-use marijuana are subject to a 15 percent state excise tax.

Ohio: Marijuana Policy Project Wants Medical Cannabis On November Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Marijuana Policy Project has set its sights on legalizing medicinal cannabis this November in Ohio.

Staff with MPP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that was behind the successful recreational marijuana legalization drive in Colorado, said they can learn from ResponsibleOhio's failed $20 million campaign to legalize recreational and medicinal cannabis last fall, reports Jessie Balmert of Gannett Ohio. Nearly two-thirds of voters opposed that ballot initiative, which would have handed control of commercial cannabis cultivation to a few campaign investors.

"It's quite clear that voters do not support anything that could be perceived as a monopoly or oligopoly," MPP spokesman Mason Tvert said. Ohio voters in November also approved a proposal from lawmakers to ban monopolies in the state constitution, a response on the marijuana investors behind the ResponsibleOhio attempt to monopolize commercial cannabis cultivation in the state.

MPP didn't back or invest in ResponsibleOhio's failed campaign, but the national group didn't actively oppose it, either. Now, though, MPP seems eager to distance itself from the expensive, futile effort. MPP won't be working with ResponsibleOhio leader Ian James or his political consulting group, according to Tvert.

U.S.: Survey Of Teens Finds No Change In Marijuana Usage Rates For Past 5 Years

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The results of an annual survey of U.S. middle and high school students released Wednesday refute claims that reforming marijuana laws and debating legalization will lead to increased marijuana use among teens.

According to the Monitoring the Future Survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

· Rates of daily marijuana use by 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders, as well as monthly use by 12th-graders, did not change from 2014 to 2015 and have remained unchanged since 2010.

· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 8th-graders did not change in the past year, but has dropped significantly since 2010.

· The rate of monthly marijuana use by 10th-graders appears to have dropped significantly from 2014 (and 2010) to 2015.

The survey also found a decline in the number of teens who perceive "great risk" in marijuana use, negating the theory that softening perceptions of harm will result in more teens using marijuana.

“Many young people recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and other drugs," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "But they also understand that it is not okay for them to use it.

"For decades, teens had an artificially high perception of risk that stemmed from exaggerations and scare tactics," Tvert said. "Now that there is more information out there and it's not limited to horror stories and propaganda, they are developing a more realistic view.

U.S.: Jeb Bush Expresses Support For Decriminalizing Marijuana

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Bush Receives Upgrade in Marijuana Policy Project’s Presidential Candidate Report Card

The nation’s largest marijuana policy organization upgraded Bush — who had not previously expressed support for decriminalization — from a ‘D’ to a ‘C-’ following a Friday interview on a Boston radio station

The nation’s largest marijuana policy organization upgraded Jeb Bush from a “D” to a “C-” in its 2016 presidential candidate report card on Friday following a radio interview in which the former Florida governor expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana.

“It’s one thing to say we should have decriminalization of marijuana. I support that,” the former Florida governor said in an interview with Joe Mathieu of Boston’s WBZ NewsRadio, reports Tom Angell at Marijuana.com.

Bush had not previously endorsed a removal of criminal penalties for cannabis possession.

Bush, however, didn't waste any time in proudly displaying his vast ignorance on the subject of cannabis.

He referred to marijuana as a “gateway drug” during the interview, referencing a theory that was thoroughly debunked by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in a 1999 report commissioned by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also said “the new marijuana” is “highly, highly toxic,” despite researchers consistently finding that marijuana is among the least toxic drugs and incapable of producing a fatal overdose.

U.S.: Sanders Becomes 1st Major Party Presidential Candidate To Support Marijuana Legalization

BernieSandersMarijuanaItIsAnObscenity[CannabisAdvocatesForBernie]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Candidate Bernie Sanders, for the first time in this campaign, on Tuesday night indicated at the Democratic presidential debate that he supports marijuana legalization.

When asked how he would vote on an initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol that is set to appear on the Nevada ballot in 2016, Senator Sanders said he would likely vote "Yes."

Hillary Clinton was asked if she has taken a position on such proposals, now that it has been a year since she said she wanted to wait to see what happens in Colorado and Washington. She said she was undecided on the issue, but that we should stop imprisoning people for pot use. She also said she supports medical marijuana.

The other three candidates in the debate, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb, were not given the opportunity to answer questions regarding marijuana policy.

"This is the first time we've seen a major candidate for president say he'd probably vote for legalizing marijuana if given the chance," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "That says a lot about how far the politics on this issue have shifted in a very short amount of time.

U.S.: FBI Reports Marijuana Arrests Increased In 2014; First Increase Since 2009

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The annual number of arrests for marijuana offenses in the U.S. increased last year for the first time since 2009, according to the Uniform Crime Report released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

There were 700,993 marijuana arrests in the U.S. in 2014, according to a new report from the FBI. That's one every 45 seconds.

Marijuana arrests comprised 44.9 percent of all drug arrests, and drug crimes are the largest category of offenses people were arrested for, according to the FBI. Fully 88.4 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession alone.

In comparison, there were 693,482 marijuana arrests in the U.S. in 2013. Data on marijuana arrests for years prior to 2013 is at http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Marijuana#Total.

"It's unacceptable that police still put this many people in handcuffs for something that a growing majority of Americans think should be legal," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "A record number of states are expected to vote on legalizing marijuana next year, so we hope and expect to see these numbers significantly dropping soon.

"There’s just no good reason that so much police time and taxpayer money is spent punishing people for marijuana when so many murders, rapes and robberies go unsolved," Angell said.

U.S.: 'Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers' Named By MPP

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The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Wednesday released its annual list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers” in the United States.

The list is available below and at https://www.mpp.org/Top50.

“About one out of every two Americans has used marijuana, including a whole lot of very successful people,” said Mason Tvert, MPP’s director of communications. “There are a lot more out there that we don’t know about because it is illegal.

"Marijuana is a less harmful substance than alcohol," Tvert said. "Adults who use it responsibly should not have to choose between keeping it a secret or admitting to a crime.”

President Barack Obama is at the top of MPP’s list, followed by several 2016 presidential candidates. At least eight (and as many as 17) of the 23 major-party presidential hopefuls have said or strongly indicated that they have consumed marijuana: Jeb Bush, Lincoln Chafee, Ted Cruz, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and Rick Santorum.

Nine others do not appear to have said whether they have consumed marijuana, and they did not respond to inquiries from MPP: Joe Biden, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb.

Only six candidates have said they never used marijuana: Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.

Colorado: Denver Drive Underway To Allow Marijuana Use In Bars

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If cannabis and alcohol are both legal for adult consumption, it would only make sense that it's OK to consume both of them socially in a bar -- wouldn't it?

That's the thinking behind a campaign underway in Denver to ask voters about allowing marijuana use in bars and other places that only allow adults over 21, reports Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press.

Activists need about 5,000 signatures in order to qualify the question for this November's ballots.

The initiative would allow bars to permit cannabis use as long as customers bring their own stash and obey clean-air laws. That translates to either bringing marijuana infused edibles, or smoking outside on the patio, the way tobacco is regulated now. Outside smoking sites couldn't be publicly visible.

"Marijuana's now a legal product for adults in Denver, and it's really time that we give adults a place to use it legally and socially," said Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which led the 2012 Amendment 64 campaign to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.

"We shouldn't be requiring that you sit at home if you choose to use marijuana as an adult," Tvert said.

Recreational cannabis consumption is illegal in Colorado if used "openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others." But the law doesn't bar use in private, 21+ clubs; the Denver measure would just clarify what qualifies as a private club.

Oregon: Advocates Say July 1 Marijuana Legalization Is Just The First Step

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Oct. 1 early start bill passes in Oregon Senate; Oregon police to stop arresting people for some marijuana crimes

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The day before adult use of marijuana becomes legal in Oregon, leaders of the state’s drug reform movement said they plan to expand their work to change how Oregon approaches drug policy.

“Thanks to Oregon voters, we have made history and become national leaders in drug reform,” said Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner of the Yes on 91 campaign to legalize marijuana. “But there’s still a lot to do, and this is just the beginning.”

Johnson has been advocating for an earlier start to regulated sales for marijuana, and the Oregon Senate today passed a bill, 23-6, that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to start selling marijuana to adults 21 and older on Oct. 1. Another bill that reduces marijuana-related criminal penalties is making its way to the governor’s desk.

Johnson said marijuana should no longer be classified as a drug as dangerous as heroin, that more money should be devoted to marijuana-related research, and that “we should focus more on helping people and less on incarcerating them.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a strong advocate for changes to federal drug laws and a leader of the Oregon campaign to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, discussed his efforts to reform outdated marijuana policy at the federal level.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Push Forward To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts legislators are working on a marijuana legalization proposal, partly to counteract an expected 2016 ballot initiative push.

Cannabis advocates have long planned an initiative petition drive to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and political analysts have expected the measure to pass in 2016, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe.

But some lawmakers are reluctant to let activists write a legalization law through ballot initiative. The legislators would rather write the law themselves, and have final say on the details. That's why 13 bipartisan sponsors introduced House Bill 1561, which would legalize marijuana for adults and establish a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce, reports Phillip Smith at AlterNet.

"Wouldn't it be a good idea for the Legislature to look at it ahead of time, listen to every point of view, anticipate every problem that we would, and try to do it right?" said Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville), a lead sponsor of a bill to legalize, tax and regulate recreational cannabis.

"I think it's better, if we're going to do this, to do it in the Legislature than on the ballot," agreed Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, who claimed he doesn't have a strong opinion on legalization. Rosenberg isn't listed as a cosponsor, but later said, "I believe if the Legislature doesn't act on it, it will be done on the ballot."

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