Along with drugs like heroin and LSD, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. Despite this classification at the federal level, several states have taken steps to legalize the use of the drug for both medical and recreational purposes. Now, the issue of recreational marijuana use is coming to Massachusetts as proponents for legalizing the drug have set their sights on the November 2016 ballot.
Prominent Massachusetts politicians including the state's governor and attorney general have spoke out against legalizing marijuana. Additionally, state law enforcement officials have voiced concerns saying that they simply aren't prepared to deal with the issue with regard to identifying and charging drug-impaired drivers.
Despite these objections, proponents of the measure, including members of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, argue that they will push for a ballot vote if state legislatures fail to take action sooner. Currently, a bill to legalize marijuana has been proposed and is being debated in the state legislature.
If passed, House Bill 1561 would allow residents age 18 and older to possess and "use marijuana they buy at registered outlets and cafes staring in 2018." Additionally, adults would be allowed to grow a small amount of the drug at home for personal use.
Regardless of whether the legislature or Massachusetts' voters take action to legalize marijuana, the state will benefit financially as "marijuana sales would be taxed on top of sales tax." Additionally, many adults with drug-related criminal convictions related to marijuana possession or use would see their convictions expunged.
In the lead-up to the November election, we’ll continue to provide updates on this issue.
Source: Masslive.com, "Massachusetts law enforcement not ready for marijuana legalization, Walpole police chief John Carmichael says," Gintautas Dumcius, Feb. 10, 2016
International Business Times, "Marijuana Legalization In Massachusetts: Lawmakers Weighing Bill To Allow, Tax Cannabis," Julia Glum, Jan. 12, 2016
Masslive.com, "Campaign to legalize marijuana like alcohol comes to the Massachusetts State House," Gintautas Dumcius, Jan. 14, 2016