Massachusetts voters are likely to find a question about legalizing medical marijuana on their ballots at the November election-and a new poll suggests that supporters of the question have reason to be optimistic.
MassCann, the commonwealth’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, recently released the results of a public opinion poll that asked respondents their thoughts on marijuana policy.
The poll didn’t ask specifically about medical marijuana, but rather sought opinions about broader legalization efforts, and found a firm majority of respondents in favor of significant reform.
According to MassCann/NORML, when asked the question: “Would you support or oppose a ballot question that legalized marijuana and regulated it in the same manner as other agricultural commodities but prohibited sale to underage persons?”
58 percent of respondents said they’d support such a measure, while 35 percent were opposed and 7 percent were undecided.
In addition, 62 percent said they’d support a law that regulated the sale and taxation of marijuana in the same way alcohol is regulated.
The poll, conducted by DAPA Research Inc., questioned 600 Massachusetts voters by phone, according to MassCann. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percent. MassCann released the results last month at the annual Massachusetts Cannabis Convention.
In a press release, Steven Epstein, a MassCann founder and activist attorney, said, “The data indicates that Massachusetts voters are more ready than voters in any other state to end prohibition and establish reasonable regulation of cannabis cultivation and commerce for all purposes.” The results put pressure on state legislators to pass a medical marijuana law, Epstein added.
If they don’t, voters will likely get the chance to decide the matter themselves. Activists collecting signatures for a medical marijuana ballot question are expected to meet the 68,911-signature threshold that would force the Legislature to take up the issue.
If the Legislature does not enact the measure by next May, supporters of the proposal will have until July to collect another 11,485 signatures to get the question on the November ballot.
The ballot question is based on a pending bill sponsored by state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg ( D-Amherst ). It would allow patients with medical conditions including glaucoma and cancer to legally obtain up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for medical use with the approval of a doctor. Sales would be regulated by the Mass. Department of Public Health.
Medical marijuana is already legal in 16 states, including Rhode Island and Maine, as well as in Washington, D.C. In addition to Massachusetts, five other states are considering legalizing medical marijuana, among them New Hampshire and New York.