Massachusetts: Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Submits Final Petition Signatures

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Tuesday wrapped up its petition drive in support of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

Campaign leaders submitted their final petition signatures to the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, which is located in the McCormack Building in Boston.

The campaign has collected more than 103,000 total signatures, and 64,750 valid signatures of registered state voters are required to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

“This is direct democracy in action,” said campaign manager Will Luzier. “People can see that our current prohibition policy isn’t working, and they’re taking action to replace it with a more sensible system. Based on the level of support and enthusiasm we saw during the petition drive, voters are ready to end prohibition and start treating marijuana more like how our state treats alcohol.”

“Massachusetts is another step closer to ending marijuana prohibition and replacing it with a more sensible policy,” said Luzier. “People are fed up with laws that punish adults simply for consuming a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.”

“Next year, voters will have the opportunity to end the failed policy of prohibition and replace it with a more sensible system,” said Luzier, a former assistant attorney general who previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. “Marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol, and our laws should reflect that.”

In summary, the proposed initiative would:
· allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow a limited number of marijuana plants in their homes, similar to home-brewing;
· Create a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail outlets, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities, which will be overseen by a commission similar to the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC);
· Provide local governments with the authority to regulate and limit the number of marijuana establishments in their city or town; and
· Create a 3.75 percent state excise tax on retail marijuana sales (in addition to the standard state sales tax) and allow local governments to establish an additional local sales tax of up to 2 percent. [Medical marijuana will NOT be subject to these additional taxes.]

“The primary objective of this initiative is to actually start controlling marijuana in Massachusetts,” Luzier said. “Marijuana should be produced and sold by legitimate, taxpaying businesses, not gangs and cartels. The much-needed tax revenue it will generate is just a bonus.”

“Marijuana prohibition has been just as big of a failure as alcohol prohibition, and Massachusetts deserves better,” Luzier said. “Regulating marijuana like alcohol will replace the underground market with a tightly regulated system of licensed businesses.”

“Most of the voters who signed the petition cited a desire to replace the underground marijuana market with a more controlled system in which marijuana is taxed and regulated,” Luzier said. “Also, most people agree that adults should not be punished simply for consuming a product that is less harmful than alcohol.”