An interesting phenomenon goes on in marijuana politics. For many years activists and advocates lobby their respective legislatures, urging elected officials to step up and reform marijuana laws. Not one state has legalized marijuana via legislative action in America, so it’s safe to say that most of what activists have been asking for has fallen on deaf ears and closed minds. That was the case in the states that had to legalize marijuana via citizen initiative, and is the case in the five states that will be voting on marijuana legalization next month.
In the states that have already passed marijuana legalization, the legislatures there went from ‘not interested’ to ‘tweaking marijuana policy is our top priority.’ That is what I saw unfold in Oregon, where elected officials dragged their feet on marijuana reform for many years, but went into hyper drive once Measure 91 was passed. Legislators used it as an opportunity to make all types of changes to the medical marijuana program, and after they were done with the medical side, they hacked and slashed the language of the legalization initiative that votes approved.
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo has already expressed that he wants to change many things if/when voters approve marijuana legalization next month. Per MassLive:
“I will not hesitate from day one to make changes to it,” DeLeo told WCVB’s “On the Record” in an interview that aired Sunday.
Under DeLeo, the House has steadfastly avoided marijuana debates, looking on as voters used the ballot in 2008 to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and in 2012 to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
But while ballot activists have seized control of marijuana policy in Massachusetts, DeLeo indicated that the Legislature might be ready to enter the policy fray.
Massachusetts House Speaker DeLeo stated that he intends to change provisions in the initiative regarding taxation, impaired driving, and marijuana edibles. I think that it’s disgraceful when politicians ignore the will of voters for many years, then when the voters succeed in making democracy happen, those same politicians trample on the will of the voters. It happened in Oregon, and sadly, it will likely happen in Massachusetts. Many people think that the finish line for legalization is on Election Day when the ‘yes’ vote wins. That’s not true. Election Day is only the beginning. That’s when the battle moves to the legislature, and to the local level where bans and other local provisions will be pushed for. Get ready!
image via Boston Globe