Activists filed paperwork last week to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts, according to Statehouse News Service. The group, Bay State Repeal, plans to test potential initiative language by placing non-binding legalization questions on local ballots in 2014 before a statewide legal pot push in 2016, according to spokesman WIlliam Downing.
Massachusetts voters decriminalized cannabis by initiative in 2008 in a landslide victory. In 2012, voters enacted a medical marijuana program by similar margins. Downing said the group was planning for 2016 because it is a presidential election year when voter turnout is expected to be high. "We do better when a lot more people vote because this is a populist issue," he told Statehouse News Service.
Not everyone is pleased at the prospect of legal pot. Calling the proposal a "slippery slope of a gateway drug," a right-wing, anti-gay-marriage, anti-abortion religious group vowed to fight to continue pot prohibition. "Is crack cocaine going to be next on the legislation list?,” Massachusetts Family Institute President Kris Mineau asked the news service, hoping vapid rhetoric would convince progressive voters to continue to criminalize cannabis consumers.
Supporters say pot prohibition breeds contempt for the law and for police who enforce it, and does little to stop the flow of the forbidden flower. "Anybody who wants to get marijuana can get it now,” Downing told SNS. Voters in Colorado and Washington, swayed by similar arguments, legalized recreational pot last year. The two states expect to have retail cannabis stores up and running within six months.