The legalization of recreational marijuana is all but certain to be on the Massachusetts ballot in November of 2016. That means it is all but certain to become legal.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has collected more than 100,000 signatures on petitions around the state, and even if some prove to be invalid, that number is well over the 64,750 valid signatures required to make the ballot. Other obstacles remain, but momentum is clearly on the side of the marijuana advocates.
In 2012, Massachusetts voters approved the use of medical marijuana through the ballot process in spite of the near unanimous opposition of political and law enforcement figures. Voters in other communities and states have backed initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana. So recent history suggests it will be approved here as well.
The Eagle expressed hope in a June editorial that state officials would learn from the disastrous roll-out of medical marijuana and get ahead of the game by crafting legislation on recreational marijuana that anticipates potential problems. Instead, the sullen denial of anti-marijuana Governor Charlie Baker set the tone on Beacon Hill. By creating a 3.75 percent state excise tax on retail marijuana sales, the advocates are seeking to assure state residents that their proposal is a responsible one. Responsible or not, it is moving into a vacuum created by state leadership.