While California remains a toss-up for legalization in 2016, several other states are more certain to control cannabis next year, Among them is the state of Massachusetts, which advanced one step closer to ending pot prohibition on Wednesday. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
reports that state officials have signed off on step one of two needed to begin gathering signatures for the measure.
The Massachusetts State Attorney General’s office also certified the petition meets constitutional requirements and now must prepare a “fair, concise summary of the proposed law” to appear on petitions and the ballot.
“People are fed up with laws that punish adults simply for consuming a substance that is objective ly less harmful than alcohol,” stated CRMLA campaign manager Will Luzier, a former prosecutor and addiction specialist. “We’re already finding a lot of support and enthusiasm among voters.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) ballot petition now heads to the Secretary of the Commonwealth for sign-off, then the campaign has to collect 64,750 registered Massachusetts voter signatures in nine weeks
The proposed initiative lifts crimes on cannabis use and possession for adults 21 and older (one ounce, six plants); and creates a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail outlets, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities, overseen by a commission similar to the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC). Just like the end of alcohol prohibition, local governments can regulate and limit marijuana businesses in their city or town. A 3.75 percent state excise tax on retail marijuana sales, and potential local sales tax of up to 2 percent will generate millions for the state.
Massachusetts has a poorly functioning medical marijuana system with just one dispensary
for the state's 12,000 licensed patients — meaning high prices, and long lines.
“Our goal is to take marijuana out of the underground market and start controlling sales similarly to how we control alcohol sales,” Luzier stated. “Marijuana should be produced and sold by licensed, taxpaying businesses, not by cartels and criminals. If Massachusetts can successfully regulate and tax alcohol, it can successfully regulate and tax a less harmful substance like marijuana.”
Meanwhile, in Arizona on Tuesday, an independent think tank revised tax revenue estimates from legalization — up from $40 million per year to about $64 million
. This came after the a leading conservative newspaper in the state, the Arizona Republic
, lied to its readers
about the revenues from legalization.
Arizona has a functioning medical cannabis system, the implementation of which the Arizona Republic
This opposition fits a pattern of scare-mongering from drug warriors, stated J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
“For decades, people have been exaggerating the potential harms of marijuana and downplaying the benefits of regulating and taxing it. We have no need to lie or exaggerate because the evidence is on our side. The most effective and abundant weapon in our campaign’s arsenal is the truth.”