Last Update: February 11, 2014

Twenty dispensaries approved; 53% of likely Bay State voters favor legalization

On Nov. 6, 2012, 63% of Bay State voters approved Question 3, making their state the 18th to enact a compassionate medical marijuana program. The Department of Public Health held listening sessions throughout the state and crafted rules to implement the law in 2013. In late January 2014, the Department of Public Health announced that it had approved 20 non-profit dispensaries. Eight more applicants are being given more time to find a different location. The program director expects 24 to 26 dispensaries to be operating by August. The state law allows for up to 35 in the first year.

Meanwhile, the patient registry is not yet up and running, though it had been anticipated by January 1, 2014. In the meantime, patients do not have to register. Patients may cultivate a limited supply of marijuana. Once the law is fully implemented, they will need a hardship registration (due to financial or other hardship) to be allowed to cultivate. You can read our summary of the new law here.

Poll shows majority of likely Massachusetts voters support legalizing marijuana

A Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll released in February 2014 found that 53% of likely Massachusetts voters “favor … the legalization of marijuana.” Only 37% were opposed.

In 2013, Massachusetts Rep. Ellen Story introduced HB 1632, a bill that would allow adults who are 21 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana. Once federal law changes, it would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. Ask your legislators to support this sensible proposal, which remains active in the 2014 session.

Marijuana laws in Massachusetts

Although possession of under an ounce of marijuana is punishable by a civil fine of $100 in Massachusetts, pursuant to an initiative campaign led by MPP in 2008, the prohibition of marijuana has plenty of opportunity costs. Time spent enforcing marijuana laws could better be used to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of violent crime. The clearance rate for murder in Massachusetts is 53.9%; for rape and burglary, the clearance rates are 27.8% and 23.8%, respectively.

Additionally, new evidence suggests that Massachusetts’ marijuana laws are not being evenly enforced. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Massachusetts are 3.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Please email your legislators and ask them to consider a more sensible alternative.

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