Marijuana legalization question can go on November ballot with changes, SJC rules

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A ballot question on whether marijuana can be sold recreationally in Massachusetts can appear on the November ballot, the Supreme Judicial Court announced in an opinion Wednesday.

However, the court also ruled that the title and one-sentence statement describing what a “yes” vote would mean were misleading — leaving out the full array of “marijuana products” that would be legalized — and said it should be amended by the Attorney General and Secretary of State offices.

The title should be changed from “Marijuana Legalization,” to “Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana,” Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants wrote.

The summary, meanwhile, would add in that only persons 21 and older would be able to access marijuana. It took out the mention of THC — the chemical in cannabis that causes a high — and added in mention of edible products. The new language read as follows:

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“A YES VOTE would allow persons 21 and older to possess, use, and transfer marijuana and products containing marijuana concentrate (including edible products) and to cultivate marijuana, all in limited amounts, and would provide for the regulation and taxation of commercial sale of marijuana and marijuana products.” (Changes highlighted in bold).

The issue wasn’t so substantial that the ballot question shouldn’t be on the November ballot, Gants wrote.

On Tuesday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol — the organization that put the ballot question forward — announced they had collected more than double the number of signatures to ensure the question made it to the November ballot.

Campaign spokesman Jim Borghesani said in a statement that the title change ordered by the SJC “accurately reflects the intent of our initiative.”

“The court issued a victory for the voters of Massachusetts today, assuring that their voices will be heard on the issue of legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana, an approach that is working in Colorado and other states and will work in Massachusetts,” he said.

Also Wednesday, the SJC ruled that the Attorney General properly certified the so-called “cage-free egg” ballot question, which would prohibit specific types of confinement for farm animals sold for food.

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