A proposed initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Massachusetts is poised for the November 2016 ballot after proponents submitted their final petition signatures to the Secretary of the Commonwealth on Tuesday.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than 103,000 total signatures, and 64,750 valid signatures of registered state voters are required to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. The Secretary of the Commonwealth is expected to validate the signatures by mid-December, at which time the petition will be transmitted to the Massachusetts Legislature. If the legislature does not adopt the measure, initiative backers must collect 10,792 additional signatures in June 2016 to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.
"This is direct democracy in action," said campaign manager Will Luzier. "People can see that our current prohibition policy isn't working, and they're taking action to replace it with a more sensible system. Based on the level of support and enthusiasm we saw during the petition drive, voters are ready to end prohibition and start treating marijuana more like how our state treats alcohol."
The proposed initiative would:
- Allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow a limited number of marijuana plants in their homes, similar to home-brewing;
- Create a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail outlets, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities, which will be overseen by a commission similar to the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC);
- Provide local governments with the authority to regulate and limit the number of marijuana establishments in their city or town; and
- Create a 3.75% state excise tax on retail marijuana sales (in addition to the standard state sales tax) and allow local governments to establish an additional local sales tax of up to 2%. [Medical marijuana will NOT be subject to these additional taxes.]
"Most of the voters who signed the petition cited a desire to replace the underground marijuana market with a more controlled system in which marijuana is taxed and regulated," Luzier said. "There's a general consensus that we'd be better off if marijuana were produced and sold by licensed businesses instead of cartels and gangs. Also, most people agree that adults should not be punished simply for consuming a product that is less harmful than alcohol."
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is supporting a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateMassachusetts.org.