Marijuana Legalization Gets One Step Closer in Massachusetts

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuna Like Alcohol is on its way to making the 2016 ballot.

Marijuana crop growing indoors

Marijuana crop growing indoors photo via Shutterstock

The hardest part of a ballot question campaign is getting the question on the actual ballot. With the exception of California, states put up all kinds of roadblocks to make the process difficult and laborious, and Massachusetts is no different.

In order to place a question on the 2016 statewide ballot, a campaign must gather a minimum of 64,750 certified signatures from registered voters. It’s no small feat. And the first campaign to cross that mighty threshold this cycle is the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

Marijuana legalization advocates claim to have gathered over 100,000 signatures for the 2016 ballot, way above the minimum.

Why so high? To ensure against challenges and disqualifications. Campaign opponents can challenge and discredit signatures that election officials overlook or allow to remain.

But that’s not the end of the process. Now that they have 100,000 signatures, they will take them to clerks in cities and town across Massachusetts for local certification. It’s all part of a long process that ends in December when the ballot measures are submitted to Secretary William Galvin’s office.

Once Galvin approves the ballot question, it goes to the state legislature for action, but usually nothing happens. It’s rare for the legislature to act on a ballot question, but it has happened in the past.

After the legislature chooses not to act on the ballot question, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will have to hit the streets again to gather 10,800 additional signatures.

Once those signatures are gathered, they go through the same process as mentioned above.

All of this is just to find out if Massachusetts voters want to legalize marijuana. A second ballot question aiming to legalize marijuana, Bay State Repeal, is also vying to make it on the ballot next year. Their proposal goes further than the one from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, but it is unclear at this time what will happen if both proposals qualify for the ballot.