MA Puts Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot
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MA Puts Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot
Posted by CN Staff on October 14, 2016 at 08:23:00 PT
By Russell Blair
Source: Hartford Courant
Massachusetts -- As a multimillion dollar fight over recreational marijuana in Massachusetts races toward the finish line, both sides of the debate in Connecticut are keeping a close eye on a vote that could open the door to legalization across New England.Massachusetts is one of five states where measures to legalize and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana will be on the ballot. Voters in Arizona, California, Maine and Nevada will also vote on the issue. An affirmative vote in Maine or Massachusetts would bring legal recreational marijuana to the region for the first time, putting new pressure on those in the state that oppose expanded marijuana use.
Jill Spineti, president and CEO of the Governor's Prevention Partnership, said her group wasn't yet willing to shift the dialogue from opposing recreational marijuana use to figuring out the best way to regulate it. At the same time she acknowledged how legal cannabis across the border would complicate that fight."We're staying focused on opposition," Spineti said. "But I do believe that if Massachusetts approves it, it will be much harder to oppose it here."There's also the question of people crossing the border to buy marijuana. Something Spineti said some Connecticut employers have raised concerns about.It's been almost two years since a public opinion poll asked Connecticut voters about marijuana legalization. In that March 2015 Quinnipiac Poll, 63 percent of voters said they supported allowing adults to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.The four states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use  Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington  have all done so through ballot initiatives, an option that's not available here. In Connecticut the legislature would have to approve a bill, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would have to sign it. Malloy, who supported enacting the state's medical marijuana program and decriminalizing the drug, has said that's as far as he's willing to go.But that hasn't stopped the issue from coming up at the Capitol. A legalization and taxation bill was introduced last year and had about a dozen Democratic co-sponsors. An informal informational hearing was held with experts on both sides offering testimony before interested legislators.Proponents of the bill said Connecticut would be losing out on valuable tax dollars if it wasn't the first state in New England to move forward with recreational marijuana legalization. State Rep. Vin Candelora, a Republican from North Branford who opposed the bill, said lawmakers shouldn't see tax revenue from the legalization of marijuana as a solution to the state's budget problems. He called it "blood money.""I think generally speaking it's a sad day when we're using gambling and illicit drugs as economic development," Candelora said.The amount of revenue taxing marijuana would bring to Connecticut is unclear. A report two years ago from the legislature's nonpartisan fiscal office said Connecticut could see $25 million to $55 million in annual revenue from marijuana taxes.Rep. Edwin Vargas, a Hartford Democrat who supported the marijuana legalization bill, said money that is funding criminal enterprises would instead be directed toward state government. Drug dealers would see their business undercut, he said, and fewer youths would be arrested for dealing."I knew all along this was going to sweep the states after the success in Colorado," Vargas said. Colorado, the first state to legalize and tax recreational marijuana use, brought in $130 million in tax revenue in the last fiscal year. "The only thing I feel bad about is we could have been first in the area and established the industry here. The one that establishes the industry first has a huge advantage."At the University of Massachusetts last week, Rick Steves, an author and travel host who helped with the marijuana legalization effort in his home state of Washington, talked about the tax benefit. But he also made a civil liberties and criminal justice argument."I'm a hardworking, kid-raising, church-going, taxpaying American citizen," he told the crowd of about 100 students and residents. "If I work hard all day long, want to go home, smoke a joint and just stare at the fireplace for three hours, that's my civil liberty."Steves said marijuana could be regulated like alcohol. He didn't buy arguments by opponents who say it's a gateway drug, or that legalizing marijuana will lead to increased use by youths."The opponents of these initiatives and moves to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana, they cherry-pick their problems and they don't recognize that the major problem is with us right now  its called the status quo. We're arresting hundreds of thousands of people every year for nonviolent marijuana crimes. They're not rich white people, they're poor people and people of color. That's a real problem."Steves acknowledged the difficulty getting marijuana legalized through a legislative effort rather than by ballot. Lawmakers in Vermont and Rhode Island had bills that progressed further than Connecticut's but neither were adopted. But public opinion is shifting. A national Pew poll released last week showed 57 percent of adults were in favor of legalizing marijuana use, up from 32 percent 10 years ago."Politicians are realizing that the days when somebody could condemn you as being soft on drugs are slipping away," Steves said. "I don't think the issue is are you soft on drugs or are you hard on drugs. Now the issue is are you smart about drug policy reform?"But even in Massachusetts most of the political establishment has shied away from supporting the ballot initiative. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healy and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, both Democrats, are against it. As is U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy. The "yes" campaign has fought back with television advertising and a substantial campaign war chest, including more than $3 million in contributions from a Washington, D.C.-based cannabis reform advocacy group.Steves was in Massachusetts as part of a weeklong tour to support the ballot question in Massachusetts. He's also contributed $100,000 to the campaign committee in favor of the initiative. The crowd in Amherst was decidedly friendly, and polls show "yes" is leading "no," but Steves and other proponents of the ballot question urged voters not to be complacent."We can't wait for other states and follow their lead," said Dick Evans, a lawyer from Northampton and one of the leaders of the legalization effort in the state. "If prohibition is wrong, then we have to repeal it. I think the other states are paying very close attention to what happens in Massachusetts and I hope that we will be able to show the other states, our neighbors, how it can be done successfully."If the ballot question passes in Massachusetts, legislators will still have the opportunity to make changes to the proposal. As it's written, the state would begin accepting applications from retailers in October 2017 with sales beginning in January 2018.Source: Hartford Courant (CT)Author: Russell BlairPublished: October 14, 2016 Copyright: 2016 The Hartford CourantContact: letters courant.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on October 16, 2016 at 03:30:48 PT
POLLShould Denver voters pass Initiative 300, which would allow Denver businesses to apply for permits to let customers bring and consume cannabis?YesNo
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Comment #7 posted by The GCW on October 15, 2016 at 20:03:42 PT
Dinosaurs influence cannabis prohibition.
I'm feeling calm now but pretty soon it will be difficult. It will be time to get excited about the election prospects.Maine and Mass out east and on the left side, California, Nevada & Arizona.Out west, You might not be able to touch the Pacific Ocean in the U.S. without being legal.That's a change people can live with. Prohibitionists are dinosaurs. For now, gotta stay calm.
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Comment #6 posted by observer on October 15, 2016 at 11:38:04 PT
Feels Like the Very First Time
Good point... government/MSM like to fool you into assuming that cannabis has always been illegal, from ancient prehistory until forever. Of course, that's another prohibitionist government-gun and police-state lie.Americans were free to use marijuana cannabis pot from time immemorial until 1937. It was government and lying-press propaganda that was whipped up against pot in the 20th century that was the "reason" pot was made illegal. Prohibitionists like to fake you out, making you think (falsely) that pot was made illegal because of the great harms which it causes. And that this has "always" been the case.This appeals to child-like mentalities. After all, anything that happened before you were born must be ancient history. Dinosaurs. Fossils. Old stuff.  We have Rachel Maddow's eye-rolls and Anderson Cooper's smirks to tell us what is true and what is obviously ridiculously false, and that's good enough. This seems to be aimed at people with the average I.Q. of a U.S. 13 year old. Still, fewer and fewer listen to mendacious MSM Mad Men these days. Especially pre- nursing home aged-people.  This seems to make the MSM mouthpieces even shriller and more desperate than ever, as the MSM audience shrinks and fizzles. I think that numerical illiteracy also means that 1937 may as well be 1397 to most of the MSM's audience anyhow. It's ancient history. Who cares about that old stuff? [insert MSM eye-rolls and smirks, here]
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Comment #5 posted by HempWorld on October 15, 2016 at 10:08:36 PT
"An affirmative vote in Maine or Massachusetts would bring legal recreational marijuana to the region for the first time, "Since after it was made illegal in 1937? And it has always been legal before that date, more or less, world-wide?As if marijuana was always illegal. The ignorance is absolutely blatant and anti-marijuana. What BS!
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on October 15, 2016 at 05:28:47 PT
oops, here's the excerpt I wanted
>>>While attempting to scare people about the harm of a commercial marijuana industry, the Safe and Healthy campaign has collected a sizable war chest that is partially funded by the alcohol industry, according to campaign finance reports. Beer Distributors of Massachusetts contributed at least $25,000, while Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of Mass one-upped even them with a $50,000 gift
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on October 15, 2016 at 05:27:29 PT
tired old media
it's cannabis, we have to get some hearsay in there!>>>There's also the question of people crossing the border to buy marijuana. Something Spineti said some Connecticut employers have raised concerns about.Which employers? I guess these mysterious "employers" are fine with workers drinking till they pass out and coming in legally hungover the next morning. No problems there.You realize that every official who fight legal cannabis is either 1) directly profiting from the illegal drug rackets 2) getting paid by the alcohol and pharmacuetical industry. Here's an interesting article on Massachusetts, guess the Courant didn't read this one:>>>'s a good reason why most of these old-school newspapers are down to about 1/10nth the circulation they had 25 years ago.
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on October 14, 2016 at 15:58:07 PT
Rick Steves
What a great man. Sane. Rational. Brave. He has a sense of honor and a conscience. He's seems to be pretty danged wonderful.A decent man.Thank you, Rick Steves.
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on October 14, 2016 at 14:21:59 PT
Time to legalize it!  Top 10 Health Benefits:
Top 10 Health Benefits of Marijuana:
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