Massachusetts is one step closer to legalizing cannabis for recreational use, with the announcement earlier this week that The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) had gathered enough signatures to make its initiative a ballot issue in November 2016.
The CMRA proposal, backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, gathered more than 100,000 signatures (much more than the required 64,750) in its effort to build early support for its campaign.
“This initiative will replace the underground marijuana market with a tightly regulated system of licensed businesses that pay taxes and create good jobs,” said campaign manager Will Luzier .
Massachusetts Will Vote On Legalization in 2016
If residents vote in support of this initiative next year, the state will take another major step on its way to full legalization. It decriminalized cannabis in 2008, and legalized medical marijuana in 2012.
The CRMLA proposal would allow adults aged 21 or older to carry around one ounce of cannabis, and grow up to six plants at home (and up to 12 plants total if they share accommodations). However, property owners and landlords can prohibit tenants from growing on rented sites. Cities and towns would also be given the power to limit where and when cannabis businesses are allowed to operate.
Consumers would pay 10 percent sales tax on their purchases. Municipalities would also be allowed to impose an additional 2 percent retail tax at their discretion.
The Two Competing Ballot Initiatives
The CRMLA is not the only initiative on the table. A group called Bay State Repeal (BSR) is also gathering signatures for a November 2016 ballot question.
In a column posted last month, Russ Belville provided insightful analysis on how the two proposals differ. The Bay State Repeal, he wrote, is more liberal in the framing of its proposed law.
“Home cultivation and personal possession would be allowed with virtually no limits,” he wrote. “A commercial marijuana system would be created with minimal taxation. Best of all, the rights of cannabis consumers in the workplace, in family court, and in medical decisions involving organ transplants would be protected.”
CRMLA May Have the Best Chance of Passing
Belville was enthusiastic about the BSR proposal, which is backed by MassCann/NORML, but he’s concerned it has a lesser chance of winning the support of state voters.
“Fight for the better legalization, sure, give the voters that option, but accept that they may have to choose the good legalization before they’re ready for the better legalization.”
In any case, the BSR proposal hasn’t yet received enough signatures to make the 2016 ballot.