The issue of medical marijuana will likely come to a public vote this November in Massachusetts, and individuals who oppose the potential legalization are beginning to rally against the legislation.
An MMJ legalization bill is currently being stalled by the State Legislature, but supporters of the issue are working diligently to gather signatures throughout the state. If the Legislature does not take up the issue, signature gatherers will have an even harder road ahead of them.
In order to get the issue on the November General Election Ballot, supporters must collect just under 70,000 valid signatures. No more than 25% of the signatures may come from residents in any one county. If the Legislature does not take up the issue of medical marijuana, supporters will have to collect an additional 11,000 signatures. They have until June 19th to collect and submit the signatures in order to get the measure onto the ballot.
The Massachusetts Prevention Alliance opposes the ballot, because they feel as though the wording of the ballot question is “misleading.” President of the Alliance, Heidi Heilman, said that the question does not “adequately” detail the patient and treatment center registration system that would be run by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
In addition, an Alliance of physicians in the state are skeptical of the measure; they are uncertain of whether there is sufficient medical evidence and scientific research to warrant legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.
The ballot question was proposed by the Committee for Compassionate Medicine. They believe that the question was drafted clearly and adequately details the licensing process. According to CCM spokeswoman Jennifer Manley, “We drafted the initiative petition to make the Massachusetts medical marijuana law the safest in the country.”
Despite the recent influx of negative attention from opponents, supporters of medical marijuana in Massachusetts say they are convinced voters will be on their side.
Bill Downing of MassCann, the local chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, said he believes there is no other issue in Massachusetts “that garners nearly as much attention.” In addition, he stated that collecting signatures is currently ahead of schedule, though he did not disclose how many signatures they had collected so far.