The ruling only focused on whether the question was compliant with constitutional rules for the ballot measure. However, the decision was unanimous. In order for it to be the ballot, supporters still need to file the signatures by the end of Wednesday.
Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants disregarded several complaints that said that the ballot question was combining two different subjects – the regulation of medicinal marijuana treatment centers and the legalization of marijuana – into a single question to answer as a “Yes” or “No”.
According to Gants “We conclude that the Attorney General did not err in certifying the petition for inclusion on the ballot under art. 48 [of the state’s constitution] because the petition contains only related subjects’’. And he also added “A voter who favors the legalization of marijuana but not the participation in the retail market of entities registered as medical marijuana treatment centers is free to vote ‘no.’ ”
However, there were some changes to the original text that were required. While the Attorney General Maura Healey wanted to simply have “Marijuana Legalization”, the new title will be “Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana”. This will appear as the 4th question on the ballot and if the majority of voters say “yes”, then Massachusetts will join other states like Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, Washington and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
Breaking up a tradition, the SJC didn’t give the time to Healy and Galvin to make the changes. The STF immediately decided on the five changes on the sentence the voters will see on their ballots turning the process much more efficient and quick.
One of these five changes and that is one of the most important ones, is the addition of the phrase “edible products”. This will make clear for voters that if the marijuana industry is launched, they will not be limited to sell only marijuana. According to what Gants wrote, “Many voters will have at least a general awareness that marijuana can appear in baked products such as cookies and “brownies,” and therefore will likely recognize that the consumption of ‘marijuana products’ will include edible products’’.
Since 2008, Massachusetts voters have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and the state became the 18th state to approve the use of medicinal marijuana. However, the federal government still lists marijuana as a controlled substance with no medical value.