After an approval from Attorney General Maura Healey, Massachusetts is another step closer to having the legalization of marijuana for recreational use be on the 2016 ballot for the state. Healey’s approval allows for two competing activist groups to start gathering the necessary amounts of voter signatures.
“It’s just a friendly competition,” said Steven Epstein, a spokesman for Bay State Repeal.
“We have cordial relations, for the most part, with the Bay State Repeal guys,” said Matt Simon, who is the New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which is an organization that helped create and fund the local ballot committee, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol wants to regulate and tax marijuana extensively compared to Bay State Repeal. This includes state and local taxes of up to 12 percent. Bay State Repeal instead wants to legalize cannabis without taxes beyond the 6.25 percent state sales tax.
Activists with The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol argue that their approach would result in a responsible use of marijuana among users who choose to consume under the law, if passed. Why? Their approach would set up a new commission to oversee the retail cannabis stores. In addition, the new commission would restrict the amount of marijuana a person could possess or grow.
Activists with Bay State Repeal want a bit of a different approach. Their belief is that marijuana sales should be treated the same as sales of any other product within the state. However, the only restriction(s) would be prohibiting sales to those under the age of 21.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has a bit of an advantage as it is better funded and has much more backing compared to Bay State Repeal. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol raised $30,000 by the end of 2014, which is was 10 times the amount Bay State Repeal raised at just $3,000.
However, with the approval from Healy, both groups need to collect 64,750 signatures from voters by November of 2015. If this happens between both groups, both questions could be seen on the November 2016 ballot in Massachusetts.
We are looking forward to the outcome and hopefully Massachusetts can potentially be one of the first East Coast states to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
(Images courtesy of TheDailyChronic, High Times,SHARE