SJC Rules Legal Marijuana Ballot Question Good to Go

Voters will decide whether to legalize it in November.
Background Texture of Marijuana Plants at Indoor Cannabis Farm Vintage

Voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana in November. / Photo via iStock.com/OpenRangeStock

Voters in Massachusetts are now all but guaranteed a chance to weigh in on legal weed, after the state’s highest court today gave the green light to a referendum on recreational marijuana.

The ballot initiative from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is legal, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled Wednesday.

It will get a bit of tinkering first, though. The court ruled the wording for the question was “misleading” and ordered that it be changed, so the title of the question will now be “Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana”—a beefier version than the old one: “Marijuana Legalization.”

It will also add language making it clear that the law would allow edible pot products.

Here’s how the wording looks now:

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.

The CRMLA also planned on Wednesday to submit all the required signatures to put the question to voters on Nov. 8. Spokesman Jim Borghesani tells Boston his group has collected more than 25,000, well beyond the minimum of 10,792. The initiative now awaits certification from the Secretary of State.

“Obviously we are very pleased,” Borghesani said. “It’s really a victory for the voters of Massachusetts because the SJC assured them today that their voices will be heard in November.”

The CRMLA is beginning to ratchet up its campaign, but Borghesani said to expect the bulk of the effort not to kick off until Labor Day.

“We’re going to continue to educate the voters, and now we don’t have the possibility of being kicked off the ballot anymore from the SJC.”

The court disagreed with opponents who argued that the question sought to do too much all at once, which is what felled a bid to wipe out the Common Core standards for Massachusetts schools.

Attorney General Maura Healey has said publicly she does not support legalization, as have Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker. Baker, Walsh and House Speaker Robert DeLeo teamed up to lead the anti-recreational marijuana Campaign for a Safe & Healthy Massachusetts.


Spencer Buell Staff Writer at Boston Magazine sbuell@bostonmagazine.com