Massachusetts: Signature Drive Gets Underway In Support Of Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Massachusetts-CapitolBuilding[CampaignToRegulateMarijuanaLikeAlcohol]

State legislators and a former federal law enforcement official joined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol at a news conference Tuesday in front of the State House to kick off the signature drive in support of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

Sen. Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont), Reps. Jay Livingstone (D-Boston) and David Rogers (D-Cambridge), and Regina Hufnagel, a former federal corrections officer, were among the first to sign the petition.

The campaign must collect the signatures of 64,750 registered Massachusetts voters by November 18 to place the measure in front of the Massachusetts Legislature. If the legislature does not adopt the measure, initiative backers must collect 10,792 signatures in June 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

“I am proud to be one of the first signers of this well-crafted initiative," said state Rep. David Rogers. "I filed legislation this session to tax and regulate cannabis because our society's public health and safety strategies have failed when it comes to cannabis consumption.

"Rather than reducing use, over the years prohibition has put thousands of people in prison for nonviolent drug crimes, wasted countless tax dollars on incarceration and ineffective enforcement, and has helped give rise to a black market that funnels billions into the pockets of criminal enterprises," Rep. Rogers said. "I am glad that the people of Massachusetts will have the chance to end this failed policy in 2016.”

“It’s time we end marijuana prohibition," said state Sen. Will Brownsberger. "I hope the ballot question is successful.”

“It is time for Massachusetts to shut down the illicit marijuana market by creating a new system that is carefully regulated, that returns revenues to cities and towns, and that ends forever the hypocrisy of punishing adults for choosing a substance that is less dangerous than alcohol,” said state Rep. Jay Livingstone.

“Marijuana prohibition has been a public policy disaster," said Regina Hufnagel of Boston, a former correctional officer for the U.S. Department of Justice. "By regulating marijuana with age restrictions, we will undercut an illegal market that is openly selling to children as well as limit access that children have to the drug.

"We reduced teen alcohol and tobacco use over the past few decades with regulation and education," Hufnagel said. "We can and will do the same with marijuana.”

“We believe this initiative presents the smartest and most effective approach to ending marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts," said Will Luzier, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and former executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. "Over the next two months, Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity to sign our petition and bring us one step closer to a more sensible marijuana policy.”