Massachusetts is voting this November on whether it will become one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana for use by adults over 21. The state legalized medical marijuana 4 years ago and there will now be a ballot question allowing residents to vote to legalize personal recreational adult use. The proposed Massachusetts marijuana laws would allow residents to have 10 ounces at home and 1 ounce on them at any time and residents would be able to grow up to 6 plants per adult and 12 plants per household. However, the process of getting the question on the ballot isn’t going as smoothly as it could.
Errors with the Proposed Ballot Question
A group call the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts have been the ones who proposed the ballot question. Officials received the comprehensive proposal drafted by the group but noted 3 errors. Laws often refer to other sections of the statute. Instead of referring to sections about legalization of personal use of marijuana, it thrice referred to a section authorizing marijuana accessories.
Possibility of Correction
The communications director for the Campaign, Jim Borghesani, spoke about the errors, saying that when compiling the final draft those sections were placed in a different order. Unfortunately, all references to the sections were not updated. Borghesani said he will ask Attorney General Maura Healey to update the changes in May, which is the timeframe that allows for such changes. As long as the Attorney General confirms that these updates don’t “change the substance of the measure,” the Massachusetts Constitution will allow the corrections to be made.
Further Details of the Massachusetts Marijuana Proposal
Other aspects of the Massachusetts marijuana proposal state that dispensary licenses would begin to be distributed in October 2017 and recreational marijuana would become available to buy in stores in 2018. While there will be no added tax to medical marijuana, there will be the regular 6.25 percent state tax, plus an extra 3.75 percent on recreational marijuana sales. It would need to be used in private but there is talk of marijuana cafes being licensed where adults would be permitted to smoke in public. It would be legal in smokable form, as well as edibles, drinkables, oils, and ointments.
Confidence Moving Forward
Advocates of the proposal are confident they will get the signatures necessary to make the November ballot this year. With many residents already purchasing marijuana on the black market, this would allow adults over 21 to enjoy the plant recreationally without the added risk. It would also allow the state to monitor marijuana sales in the same way it monitors alcohol sales. A Cannabis Control Commission put in place by the treasurer’s office would oversee Massachusetts marijuana licenses, packaging, and advertising, paid for through marijuana sales tax.
Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the District of Columbia have all legalized recreational adult use for those over 21 in recent years. Marijuana offers a much healthier, medicinally valuable, and less toxic alternative to alcohol for many adults who prefer it above alcohol. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts is working towards allowing adults to make that choice in a safer and more regulated way. This November we will see if the majority of residents are ready to lift prohibition.