Pubdate: Fri, 29 Apr 2016
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2016 The Boston Herald, Inc
Note: Prints only very short LTEs.
Author: Kimberly Atkins


WASHINGTON - The battle over legalizing recreational marijuana in 
Massachusetts will land before the state's highest court in June - 
when opponents will argue that the petition to put it on the ballot 
was misleading.

Challengers to the proposed November state ballot question will ask 
the justices of the Supreme Judicial Court to throw out the more than 
100,000 signatures collected to certify the ballot measure.

"The voters who signed the petition to put the measure on the ballot 
weren't told what the legislation would do," said John Scheft, an 
attorney representing a group of registered voters who filed a 
complaint last week challenging the measure.

"They thought they were supporting the legalization of the leafy, 
green, nostalgically popular plant known as marijuana," Scheft said. 
"But that they are really legalizing is not just that kind of 
marijuana, it's also marijuana in a highly concentrated form."

Those products, he said, include edibles like cupcakes and candy as 
well as hashish and other highly concentrated forms of pot that some 
opponents call "cannabis crack" due to high amounts of THC, the 
chemical responsible for the weed's high.

The concerns echo those voiced by a number of Bay State officials, 
including Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Mayor 
Martin J. Walsh - who oppose the ballot measure for a number of 
reasons, saying among other things that it would legalize marijuana 
in a number of potentially highly potent forms, including food.

Wednesday, the Supreme Judicial Court set the challenge for arguments 
in a June 8 special session - an effort to settle the dispute before 
the voter guides and ballots for November's election go to print.

But the pro-marijuana legalization group behind the ballot measure is 
dismissing the challenge as a late hour plume of legal hot air.

"This is simply a last-ditch attempt to block the voters of 
Massachusetts from expressing their opinion about regulating and 
taxing marijuana," said Jim Borghesani of the Campaign to Regulate 
Marijuana Like Alcohol. "We are confident it will fail, and we will 
continue our work to ensure that the voters are heard."

The timing of the challenge didn't go unnoticed by SJC Justice 
Fernande R.V. Duffly, who scheduled the argument, but called on the 
challengers to explain why they took so long to file it - a signal 
that the court may already be casting a skeptical view of the claim.

"I have a really simple answer: it's because they had money and we 
don't," said Scheft, who cast the challengers' legal battle against 
the pro-legalization group as a David and Goliath clash over pot.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom