jim borghesani

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Virginia: Jeff Sessions Says Marijuana Is "Only Slightly Less Awful" Than Heroin

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In prepared remarks for a speech to law enforcement in Richmond today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "dependency" on marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin.

Sessions addressed the group: "I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life."

He said he supports a renewed drug awareness campaign on the "terrible truth about drugs" much like the ones started decades ago.

He continued: "In the ’80s and ’90s, we saw how campaigns stressing prevention brought down drug use and addiction. We can do this again. Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices. We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse."

Massachusetts: Marijuana Legal At Midnight Tonight

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

It will be legal for adults 21 and over in Massachusetts to possess marijuana and to grow the plant at home starting at midnight tonight. The Governor's Council recently certified the results of the November election.

“This is a historic day for Massachusetts,” said Jim Borghesani, who was the spokesman of the Yes on 4 campaign. “[W]e urge all residents intending to use or grow marijuana to educate themselves regarding what is and isn’t allowed under the new law.”

Borghesani also argued against changing the law, as some officials have said they intend to do next year. “This law was written with great deliberation and care, and it requires no legislative fixes or revisions. It would be unwise to extend the period where possession is legal but retail sales aren’t in effect. We hope that the Cannabis Control Commission is appointed by the March 1 deadline and that they begin the crucial work of writing the regulations that will control the new industry,” he said.

Massachusetts: Pot To Be Legal Thursday

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin had warned last week that a delay in the measure legalizing marijuana may be necessary, but says now that will not be the case.

Galvin's office said Friday that he will submit official results of the voter-passed legalization measure to the Governor’s Council Wednesday for certification. Possessing, growing, and using marijuana at home will be legal Thursday if no unforeseen obstacle comes up.

“This closes the door on an era that was marked by hysteria, by injustices, and by ineffective public policy,” said Jim Borghesani, who helped lead the legalization effort. “This opens up an era that may take a bit of getting used to, but as in many other social transformations, people will look back and say: What were we so worried about?"

Adults 21 and over in Massachusetts will be allowed to use, posses, and purchase up to one ounce of pot beginning Thursday.

Marijuana use will still be prohibited in public places and anywhere tobacco smoking is not allowed.

People will be allowed to have up to 10 ounces of pot in their primary residence, and grow up to 12 plants per household.

Marijuana accessories, such as pipes, bongs, and grow lights, also become legal on Thursday.

But there will be no retail stores until January 2018.

Massachusetts: Senate President Says Parts Of Marijuana Law May Be Delayed

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A top Massachusetts lawmaker said on Monday that legislators are talking about delaying some aspects of the recently-passed marijuana legalization measure.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg said, “We’ve had discussions about delaying some of the dates to give us more time to fine-tune the bill and, in the next few weeks, we have to make final decisions on that.”

Rosenberg, A Democrat who supported legalization, said that if lawmakers implement a delay of the ballot measure, “it’s going to be a very time-limited delay.”

The initiative legalizes possession, use, and homegrowing of marijuana on December 15, a week from Thursday. It requires the state treasurer to appoint a three-person Cannabis Control Commission to regulate the industry by March 2017. Retail stores would be authorized to sell pot starting in January 2018.

“It’s encouraging that these leaders seem to be indicating that there will be no attempt to delay the December 15 possession and homegrow provisions,” said Jim Borghesani, who helped lead the effort to pass Question 4.

Massachusetts: Towns May Try To Block Local Pot Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Less than a week after Massachusetts voters legalized marijuana for adults, cities and towns across the state are exploring ways to limit or even snuff out marijuana shops in their communities.

“I’m dead set against it,” said Mayor Stephen N. Zanni of Methuen, who wants to ban marijuana retailers from opening in his city, where 52 percent of local voters opposed the ballot question. “I don’t think it’s an appropriate fit here for our community.”

Marijuana advocates worry that municipal officials are acting rashly to restrain sales of the drug, even though voters statewide just approved Question 4 by a decisive 54 percent to 46 percent.

“I would not want to see a handful of town officials controvert the vote of the people of Massachusetts,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the legalization campaign. “What we don’t support is rushing out of the gate out of paranoia and hysteria."

Under the new law, recreational use of the drug will become legal on Dec. 15, and marijuana shops can open in January 2018.

The law also gives cities and towns several options to push back, however.

Massachusetts: Senate Leader Says Lawmakers Shoudn't "Dilly Dally" Looking At New Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said on Thursday the initiative to legalize Massachusetts marijuana for recreational use that voters approved this week will need improvements to address such issues as taxes on marijuana sales, driving while high, and edible pot products.

Rosenberg, a supporter of Question 4, said issues related to the new law could be addressed soon after the Legislature begins its new session in January.

He told reporters he believed most voters approved of legalization “in principle.” He noted the measure was drafted more than a year ago, well before a report produced by a special Senate committee that visited Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.

“The Legislature has the right to revisit policy matters that were unaddressed or not addressed as well as they could,” he said.

But the group that spearheaded the ballot question pushed back, arguing that lawmakers shouldn’t move too quickly to make revisions to the law.

“I think this is too rushed,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for Yes on 4, in a telephone interview. “The Legislature has a role to play, but I think they should respect the will of the voters, let regulators do their jobs and then determine what should be done, if anything.”

Massachusetts: School Superintendents Oppose Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents came out Wednesday against a likely ballot question to make marijuana legal for recreational use, saying it is worried legalizing marijuana for adults will make it easier for kids to obtain the drug.

“As superintendents, our primary focus is on helping each and every student reach their full potential, and we believe the commercial legalization of marijuana runs directly counter to that goal,” the executive director of the association, Tom Scott, said in a statement. “Where marijuana is legal, we see increased use and abuse by young people.”

Supporters of marijuana legalization disagreed with that claim.

“We’ve actually seen use among young people remain flat or go down in Colorado,” where recreational marijuana sales for adults began in 2014, said Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts, which is backing the ballot effort in this state.

“We think the more dangerous market is the one that exists today — where drug dealers don’t ask for IDs,” Borghesani said, echoing a main argument of backers that children will be safer when marijuana sales move from the street to licensed stores that sell only to adults.

Massachusetts: Marijuana Initiative Backers' Campaign Highlights Alcohol Hypocrisy

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Backers of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts are launching a campaign Friday to highlight the hypocrisy of elected officials who oppose the initiative but promote the use of a more harmful substance — alcohol.

Leaders of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol held a news conference Friday morning in front of the Massachusetts State House. They showcased a large, provocative sign featuring their first two targets, Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who just announced they have formed a committee to oppose the proposed initiative because they believe marijuana is too dangerous to regulate for adult use.

Baker has proposed legislation to loosen the state’s liquor licensing regulations and expand the number of locations in which alcohol can be served. He also supported repealing the state alcohol tax and opposed a Boston alcohol tax. Walsh proposed legislation to allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., providing an extra two hours of drinking time.

Massachusetts: Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Responds To New Opposition Committee

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Thursday issued a statement in response to Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s announcement the same day, that they have formed a committee to oppose the campaign’s initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

Earlier in the day, the Western New England University Polling Institute released the results of a statewide survey that found 57 percent of Massachusetts voters support the proposed initiative and just 35 percent are opposed.

“Our campaign will not allow our opponents to claim the high road on matters of public health and safety," said Jim Borghesani, communications director for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "The truth is that the greatest danger associated with marijuana is its illegal status. Our opponents seem to prefer that criminals control the marijuana market and sell untested, unlabeled products to people of any age.

“Gov. Baker and others need to understand that conflating the opioid epidemic with marijuana sends a very dangerous message to our youth," Borghesani said. "The blurring of lines between drugs in this country is a pattern that started with Richard Nixon more than four decades ago. And it has caused more harm than good.

Vermont: Governor Says Marijuana Edibles Make For 'Bad Pot Bill' In Massachusetts

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Governor Peter Shumlin wants to legalize marijuana in Vermont before Massachusetts because he does not want Massachusetts' "bad pot bill" to negatively influence his state.

The governor expressed his views in a blog post entitled The Time is Now to Take a Smarter Approach to Marijuana on his official website.

The bill Shumlin supports would ban edibles, unlike the bill proposed in the Massachusetts ballot initiative, which would permit them for recreational users.

“The bill’s approach is in stark contrast to the one proposed in the Massachusetts referendum that will be voted on in November, which would allow edibles that have caused huge problems in other states, smoking lounges, home delivery service, and possession of up to 10 ounces of marijuana. Vermont’s bill allows none of that,” Shumlin wrote in his post. “If Massachusetts moves forward with their legalization bill while Vermont delays, the entire southern part of our state could end up with all the negatives of a bad pot bill and none of the positives of doing the right thing."

Jim Borghesani, communications director for The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, told the State House News Service: “He seems to focus on edibles as a negative and, unfortunately, I think he’s falling into the same exaggerations when it comes to edibles that a lot of other people have. The problems with edibles in Colorado were pretty much contained to the first year of legal sales. The packaging has been changed, the portioning has been changed. It’s a learning process."

Massachusetts: Marijuana Inititiative Backers Launch St. Patrick's Day Billboard In Boston

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Backers of a proposed ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts launched a St. Patrick’s Day-themed billboard Monday that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will hold a news conference today at 12 p.m. ET in front of the digital billboard, which faces Seaport Blvd. on the south side of District Hall. The ad will run through Sunday, March 20, when local and state leaders will gather for the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the nearby Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The billboard features a green beer, a glass of whiskey, and a marijuana leaf below the words, “Beer,” “Liquor,” and “Safer,” respectively. It directs viewers to RegulateMass.com/Safer, which details several ways in which marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society.

“Our goal is to make this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities as educational as they are enjoyable,” said CRMLA Campaign Manager Will Luzier, who previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. “While folks are celebrating with a pint of green beer or a glass of whiskey, we want them to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance.

Massachusetts: Marijuana Legalization Campaign Says Senate Report Is "Recycled Hysteria"

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Officials with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts called a special Beacon Hill report "hastily written" and said the document ignores the positive aspects of legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the campaign, said the 118-page report ignores the regulatory structure described in their ballot initiative. The initiative is expected to be on the statewide ballot in November.

State senators released the report at a press conference inside the State House.

"A lot of this stuff is directly from 1930s, reefer madness," Borghesani said after seeing the report. "It's just recycled hysteria and we don't think anybody's falling for that," he continued.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol proposal would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to grow cannabis plants at home. It would establish a system of retail marijuana businesses and cultivation facilities, and would add a 3.75 percent state tax on top of the 6.25 percent sales tax.

A Cannabis Control Commission would regulate the substance.

The report from the special State committee called for a prohibition on home growing and heavier taxes.

Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, said that he was undecided but leaning towards legalization until taking a trip to Colorado in January. He said he's against legalization now.
"The black market doesn't go away because it's so well-established," he told reporters last week.

Massachusetts: Backers of Legalization Initiative To Respond To Senate Committee Report

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The special Massachusetts Senate Committee on Marijuana is scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday, March 8, at 10:30 a.m. ET in the Senate Reading Room of the State House to release its report regarding the potential impact of regulating marijuana for adult use. Backers of a proposed November ballot initiative to regulate cannabis like alcohol in Massachusetts will hold a media availability outside the Senate Reading Room immediately following the Tuesday news conference to respond to the report.

The report is expected to include recommendations for regulations that should be enacted if marijuana prohibition is repealed by the legislature this session or by voters in November. Members of the committee traveled to Colorado in January to examine the state’s system of regulating marijuana cultivation and sales for adult use.

“We commend the Senate committee members for traveling to Colorado to examine the state’s marijuana regulatory system,” said CRMLA Communications Director Jim Borghesani. “Based on news accounts of the trip, however, it appears some committee members traveled to Colorado with a bias against regulating marijuana and sought information to buttress their positions.

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.”

Massachusetts: Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Headed By Former Assistant AG

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Wednesday announced that former Assistant Attorney General Will Luzier will lead the campaign in support of a 2016 ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

Luzier, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general, served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention from 2008 until April 2015. Previously, he served as chief of staff and general counsel to a state senator.

“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.

"Marijuana should be sold by responsible Massachusetts companies, not violent criminals and cartels,” Luzier said.

The campaign also announced that Jim Borghesani has been hired to serve as communications director.

Borghesani held top communications positions in the offices of the Massachusetts governor and the Suffolk County district attorney, and he has worked for many clients in the private sector. He is a former reporter at the Patriot Ledger and the Boston Business Journal.

“Adults who consume marijuana responsibly are no more deserving of punishment than adults who enjoy a cocktail responsibly,” Borghesani said. “Regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol makes sense.

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