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Massachusetts attorney general OKs marijuana ballot initiatives

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Ballot initiatives from two marijuana advocacy groups were approved by the Massachusetts attorney general on Wednesday, leaving it up to voters to decide whether pot smoking should be legal in the state.

The proposals, submitted to State Attorney General Maura Healey by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and the Bay State Repeal, argue that legalizing the drug will make it easier to regulate its sale and prevent underage kids from accessing it.

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Now, the backers must collect and file signatures from more than 64,000 voters by Dec. 2. The proposal would then be sent to the Legislature in May.

If officials do not enact the initiative at that time, then proponents must collect an additional 10,000 signatures by early July to bring it to the ballot box in the November 2016 election. If passed, the proposal would become a state statute.

In Massachusetts, 53 percent of voters told a Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll in February that they would favor legalizing marijuana with just 37 percent opposing.

Since 2012, similar initiatives have been passed by voters in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Democrat, has publicly condemned the use of marijuana, and in August passed an initiative banning the sale of synthetic marijuana products.

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“I’ve seen too many lives ruined by starting to smoke weed and then, eventually, going to other types of drugs,” Walsh, a recovering alcoholic, told the Boston Globe in May.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, has a similar stance, telling media he would oppose any such proposal.

The two Massachusetts proponents offer different proposals. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol proposes a 3.75 percent excise tax, optional local taxes, and the creation of a new state group to regulate the drug.

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The Bay State Repeal group proposes no additional taxes on the drug and argues it should be treated like other products sold to adults 21 years or older.

Pro-marijuana groups are launching similar campaigns in California, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio and Maine in 2016.

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Maddow destroys ‘bad faith’ complaints about impeachment from Republican Trump supporters

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The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on Friday blasted "bad faith" arguments from Republicans about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Maddow recounted the process complaints by Republicans -- each of which has disappeared.

"After going through all of that, they now have unveiled a new objection as to why President Trump cannot actually be subject to this impeachment proceeding, a new noble stand they're taking for fairness and the American way -- they have rolled it out with our friends at the Fox News channel," Maddow said.

She played a clip of former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich on Fox News.

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Everyone is baffled by Trump’s rambling rant about flushing toilets ’10 times, 15 times’

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Another day, another truly baffling series of words coming from President Donald Trump’s mouth.

Speaking at a White House meeting on Friday about small business and regulation, Trump went on one of his trademark riffs, touching on a number of subjects with the clarity of a muddy puddle. He seemed to be referring to a series of complaints that have been raised over the years about various consumer product regulations (a favorite topic of Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky) but without making a coherent point about any of them.

Read the whole stream of consciousness rant to get a sense of what it was like:

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Adam Schiff pushes Pence to declassify aide’s secret information — implying it might be embarrassing or illegal

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House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a letter on Friday to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to declassify the entirety of his Sept. 18 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky for use in the impeachment inquiry.

Though the vice president’s office, along with the rest of the administration, has stonewalled the impeachment inquiry’s requests for documents, Schiff’s committee obtained information about the Sept. 18 call through Jennifer Williams, a Pence aide who has already testified. Initially, Schiff explained, Williams testified about Pence’s call and did not assert that any part of it was classified. When she testified publicly, however, she said Pence’s office had since determined that the call was classified. She later sent the committee a “supplemental submission” after reviewing “materials” that refreshed her memory about the call — and it’s that supplemental submission that Schiff would like to see declassified.

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