While some may be relieved that one of the two ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis for adult-uses in Massachusetts failed, as a single ballot initiative is more likely to succeed, the animosity between the rival groups points to a bigger issue that threatens to slow legalization through ballot initiatives. While the plan backed by Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), remains on track to qualify, Bay State Repeal failed to get the number of signatures necessary. It’s leader, Steve Epstein, is now saying he won’t support CRMLA’s initiative:
On Wednesday Epstein said he would “use every skill in my power” to oppose CRMLA’s question, which he called a “bad law” that supports “crony capitalism.” (That marks a change in tune from earlier this fall, when Epstein said he “might hold my nose” and vote for CRMLA if it were the only one to make the ballot.)
The Bay State Repeal effort, supported by activists, differed from CRMLA in that its plan would have been less tightly regulated. MPP’s CRMLA plan would likely lead to a more corporate approach, with a strong regulatory authority and a system of taxation. Infighting like this was part of the reason the Ohio initiative failed.
Recently MPP lost a key member of its staff, Dan Riffle, who criticized the relationship between the organization and industry. In California, competing initiatives for a potential November referendum threaten to divide voters. The cannabis industry faces a challenge of working with all of the pro-cannabis interests in order to achieve legalization in additional states.
Read Adam Vaccaro’s “The marijuana legalization push in Mass. just got a little more clear”: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2015/12/02/the-marijuana-legalization-push-mass-just-got-little-more-clear/ysj6Ow9JBCocrMRwERAEdJ/story.html