Massachusetts Groups File Petitions For Legalization Ballot Measures

Two marijuana advocacy groups in Massachusetts filed petitions Wednesday that would put recreational marijuana legalization measures on the 2016 ballot.

The two groups’ proposals represent starkly different views on how marijuana legalization should be implemented. The proposal by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts (CRMLA) would create a “Cannabis Control Commission” that would institute regulations and taxes. The other group, Bay State Repeal, submitted a proposal that focuses on individual liberties and would not significantly regulate or tax marijuana production and sale.

CRMLA is funded by the Marijuana Policy Project, which helped pass Colorado’s legalization program. CRMLA’s proposal would institute a 3.75% excise tax on top of the state’s 6.25% sales tax, and would permit cities and towns to impose an additional 2% local tax. Adults would be allowed to grow up to six plants for personal use, and medical marijuana dispensaries would have a head start on becoming recreational operations.

The Bay State Repeal group is purportedly run only by local activists. Its measure would not levy taxes beyond the state sales tax, and would not limit the number of plants individuals could have.

Steve Epstein, a lawyer and spokesman for Bay State Repeal, argued that CRMLA’s proposed taxation scheme, which could add up to a 12% sales tax on marijuana, would bolster the black market.

The ballot proposals will be reviewed by Attorney General Maura Healey. If approved, the groups can then begin collecting signatures from registered voters.


Photo Credit: Jim Bowen

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