Vote NO to legalizing the marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
30 06, 2016

ICYMI: Advice From CO Guv On Pot Legalization – “Wait a Year Or Two And See How It Goes”

Is Pot Losing Its Buzz in Colorado?: A backlash is growing in a state where marijuana has quickly become a $1 billion legal business

Fortune Magazine
By Jennifer Alsever
July 1, 2016 Issue

For months, Paula McPheeters and a handful of like-minded volunteers have spent their weekends in grocery-store parking lots, even in 95° F heat. Sitting around a folding table draped with an American flag, they asked passing shoppers to sign a petition. Inevitably a few sign-wielding young protesters would show up to argue that McPheeters’s group was dead wrong. With the two sides often just yards away from each other, shouting matches erupted. “We’re peaceful people,” one woman yelled. “You’re drugged out,” countered an angry man. Threats and phone calls to police became the norm.

The wedge dividing the people of this small blue-collar city of Pueblo, Colo.? Legal marijuana.

Colorado gave the green light to recreational marijuana back in 2012, when it passed a law to make nonmedical pot sales legal starting Jan. 1, 2014. But now opposition is rising in communities across the state. Colorado has become a great social experiment, the results of which are still not clear. “The jury is still out as to whether this was a good idea,” says Colorado attorney general Cynthia Coffman.

What’s undeniable is this: Legal marijuana is in high demand in Colorado. Only three other states—Alaska, Washington, and Oregon—plus the District of Columbia currently permit recreational adult use of cannabis. (It’s legal for medical use in ­another 19 states.) Of that group, Colorado led the way in 2015 with $996.5 million in licensed pot sales—a 41.7% jump over 2014 and nearly three times the figure in Washington State. Recreational sales made up nearly two-thirds of the total.

Now, as citizen groups attempt to put the brakes on the growing industry, a heated debate has emerged about the drug’s societal impact. Doctors report a spike in pot-related emergency room visits—mostly due to people accidentally consuming too much of potent edible pot products. Police face new cartel-related drug operations. Parents worry about marijuana being sold near their homes and schools. And less affluent communities like Pueblo struggle with the unintended consequences of becoming home to this emerging and controversial industry.

Amendment 64 decriminalized marijuana statewide, but Colorado’s cities and counties still decide if the drug can be grown and sold locally. At least 70% of the municipalities in the state have banned commercial operations, either by popular vote or board decisions.

Many other communities have begun pushing back. Last fall, controversy arose in the small western Colorado town of Parachute when an antipot group attempted to recall members of the town council who had welcomed pot shops. (Voters defeated the recall 3 to 1.) Debate has since emerged in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Littleton, and Rifle over the number, location, smell, and mere existence of retail and cultivation facilities. Citizens in the San Luis Valley, in the southern part of the state, say their schools and social services have been overwhelmed by a flood of newcomers coming to grow cannabis on cheap land, despite limited water. And just this spring officials in Colorado Springs and Englewood opted to ban pot social clubs, which are akin to lounges in which people can legally smoke weed in public.

“I’m getting calls now from people who voted for legalization thinking it wouldn’t affect them,” says Kevin Sabet, co-founder of national antimarijuana legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “They’re surprised to see these are sophisticated businesses opening up next to their schools selling things like marijuana gummy bears. And they’re angry.”

Officials in Denver, which is home to one-third of the state’s cannabis market, moved this spring to rein in pot capitalism. The city passed an ordinance capping the number of dispensaries and grow facilities at the present level. But discontent continues to fester in poorer communities, where many of these operations inevitably land. “We were told that legalization would take drugs out of our community,” says Candi CdeBaca, a community activist who grew up in the mostly Latino and poor Denver neighborhood of Elyria-Swansea. “The drugs stayed—and the drug dealers changed.”

CdeBaca points to, for example, an increase in school suspensions related to marijuana. And unlike the meatpacking plants and refineries that once dotted the area, CdeBaca says, this new industry hasn’t brought her neighbors jobs. Instead, the money is flowing to outsiders.

“It’s the Wild West, and the well-funded marijuana industry has dominated the regulatory process, and people are finally speaking up,” says Frank McNulty, a lawyer for Healthy Colorado, which plans to put a measure on the November state ballot—an easier task in Colorado than in many other states—that would limit the active drug ingredient THC in cannabis candy and concentrates and require health warnings on packaging. The marijuana industry has objected to the proposal, and the issue is now before the Colorado Supreme Court.

Cannabis backers bristle at the pushback, calling it a back-door effort by prohibitionists who simply disagree with the legalization of the drug. Mason Tvert, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which leads legalization efforts nationwide, cites studies showing minimal impact on society and no harm to Colorado’s growing economy. Says Tvert: “Anyone who says it’s caused an increase in this or that [problem] is full of shit.”

What plays out in Colorado may influence what happens across the nation. Pot remains illegal under federal law. But legalization of recreational marijuana for adult use will be on the November ballot in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada, and likely in Arizona and Maine too. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri will be voting on whether to approve it for medical use. The growth of the cannabis industry has begun to attract the interest of big companies. Microsoft announced in mid-June that it has developed a software product to help states track marijuana growth and sales.

In a recent appearance on CNBC, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offered this advice to other states considering legalization: “I would suggest wait a year or two and see how it goes.”

To read complete article, click here.

27 06, 2016

Construction Industries of Massachusetts Opposes Ballot Question To Legalize Commercial Marijuana

Association Cites Concerns Around Worker Safety, Impact on Communities; Joins Coalition Of Workers, Businesses, And Others Opposing Ballot Question

BOSTON – One of the state’s largest construction associations today voiced its opposition to the ballot question to legalize commercial marijuana in Massachusetts. The Construction Industries of Massachusetts (CIM) cited concerns around worker safety on projects and the overall impact of commercial legalization on families and communities.

CIM is an association representing all aspects of the transportation and public works construction industry in Massachusetts. Members are general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment dealers, engineers, consultants, insurance and bonding companies, law firms and accounting firms and many other companies interested in furthering the progress of the industry.

One of CIM’s major concerns is the impact of increased use of marijuana on the worksite, particularly based on the influx of legal edible products that would come with commercial legalization. Employees who test positive for marijuana have significantly higher rates of workplace accidents.

CIM also expressed concerns about the negative impact commercial legalization will have on families and communities. At a time that many families are dealing with the impact of the opiate crisis, CIM believes that now is not the time to allow an industry into Massachusetts whose profit model is based on the promotion and sale of another addictive drug.

“Our members spend their days on worksites across the Commonwealth, and we believe increasing the availability of marijuana will undermine the safety of our workers,” CIM Executive Director John Pourbaix said. “The marijuana industry is a big business focused on the marketing and sale of an addictive drug, and we simply believe allowing this industry into Massachusetts is a bad idea for our workers and their families.”

CIM joins a growing coalition of workers, businesses, health care and community leaders, anti-addiction advocates, educators, first responders, and families who are opposing the legalization of commercial marijuana in Massachusetts.

Among the groups that have already come out in opposition to this initiative are: the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, the Association of School Superintendents, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the National Association of Mental Illness (Massachusetts Chapter), the Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, and all Massachusetts District Attorneys.

24 06, 2016

Statement Of Campaign For Safe and Healthy Massachusetts On Marijuana Industry’s Failed Commitment To Protecting Massachusetts Consumers and Communities

Campaign Responds To Yesterday’s Statement By Industry’s Spokesperson; 24-Page Ballot Question Protects Industry, Fails To Protect Consumers

BOSTON - The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts (SHMA) issued the following statement regarding the Marijuana Industry’s commitment to protecting kids and communities. The statement is in response to quotes from the industry’s Massachusetts spokesperson following a SHMA press conference regarding the edibles market that would be established under commercial legalization.

The SHMA press conference highlighted the prevalence of the edibles market under commercial legalization and the fact that there would be no potency limits placed on those products. In response, the industry’s spokesperson offered a familiar refrain – pushing it to the Cannabis Control Commission, which would be formed after the question was passed.

“I find it very difficult to believe that the Cannabis Control Commission, who has full authority to exercise what type of products can be sold -- what shape, what manner, how they’re packaged, how they’re marketed -- would allow anything to be sold that would pose any sort of a threat to children,” said spokesperson Jim Borghesani. (WBUR  -

The following is a statement from Safe and Healthy Massachusetts Campaign Manager Nick Bayer:

“Every time concerns come up about protecting consumers or limiting the harmful impact of edibles, the Marijuana Industry has the same response – let the Cannabis Control Commission deal with it. Their constant referencing of the Cannabis Control Commission is just a head fake from the real issue. Because if the Marijuana Industry really was concerned with protecting consumers or addressing the edibles problem, they would have written meaningful protections into their own ballot question. Instead, their ballot proposal specifically authorizes edibles, places no restrictions on potencies, authorizes the marketing of these products, and does nothing to address impaired driving. And we know in Colorado, once the ballot question passed, the Industry then fought regulations every step of the way.

The Marijuana Industry devoted twenty-four pages of this ballot question to protect their interests, but failed to protect Massachusetts consumers and communities. That is why this ballot question – written by and for the Big Marijuana Industry – is the wrong path for Massachusetts.”


The ballot question written by the marijuana industry is twenty-four pages. Among the provisions written INTO the ballot question include:

  • SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZES marijuana edibles (products like candy bars, gummy bears, “cannabis cola,” etc.), oils and concentrates
  • SEVERELY RESTRICTS municipalities’ (and the state’s) ability to limit the nature and presence of the marijuana industry in their communities.
  • BARS communities from restricting “home grows.”
  • GUARANTEES PREFERENTIAL LICENSING for existing industry insiders
  • SETS tax rate very low, meaning little or no net revenue benefit

Among the protections NOT included into the ballot question:

  • NO limits on THC percentage
  • NO protections against drugged driving
  • NO provisions for data collection and research
  • NO LIMIT on the number of stores that can sell marijuana statewide or number of operations to grow or manufacture marijuana and marijuana products.
23 06, 2016


Pot-Infused Edibles Like Candy And Soda Are Highly Potent, A Danger For Accidental Overdoses, and Represent 50% Of Retail Sales In Colorado

FRAMINGHAM – Highlighting the marketing and sale of pot-infused edibles as a major part of the Marijuana Industry’s profit model under commercial legalization, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts held a press conference today to discuss the impact these edibles would have on Massachusetts. Edibles have a much higher potency than marijuana plants, have no potency limits placed on them under the pending ballot question, and are a significant risk for accidental use by kids.

Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael and Representative Hannah Kane held the press availability to show examples of the kinds of candies, sodas, patches, and other products that have been marketed and sold under commercial legalization. Edibles account for 50% of the sales in Colorado since commercial legalization and will be a major part of the market in Massachusetts if the ballot question is passed.

“Our goal is simply to make sure voters know what they are voting on before they go to the ballot in November,” Kane said. “A vote for commercial legalization is a vote to allow the marketing and retail sale of marijuana-laced products like gummy bears, cookies, and soda. These products are highly potent, look like regular candy, and are a significant risk for accidental use by our kids and overdoses by adults”

Among the facts highlighted in today’s press event included:

  • Marijuana Edibles now account for approximately 50% of marijuana product sales in Colorado since legalization, and that number is growing.
  • There is no limit on the potency of edible products in Colorado, nor are limits written into the proposed law in Massachusetts.
  • Edible products have been known to have THC levels reaching as high as 95%. That compares to the THC in current marijuana plants that average 17-18% THC, and marijuana THC levels of 3-4% that existed back in the 1980s.
  • Marijuana infused products such as gummy bears, candy bars, cookies, and “cannabis cola” are often indistinguishable from traditional products and attractive to children.
  • Doctors at Children’s Hospital Denver reported that, after legalization, the ER began treating one to two kids a month for accidental marijuana ingestion, mostly in the form of edibles. Prior to legalization, they reported none.
  • For example, in 2014, a two-year old girl from Longmont, Colorado was sent to the hospital after accidentally eating a marijuana cookie she found in front of her apartment building.

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts represents a growing coalition of health care and community leaders, anti-addiction advocates, educators, business groups, first responders, and families who are opposing this proposed legalization of the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts.

Among the groups that have already come out in opposition to this initiative include: the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Association of School Superintendents, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the National Association of Mental Illness (Massachusetts Chapter), the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, and all Massachusetts District Attorneys.

8 06, 2016

ICYMI: Sheriff Concerned By Reports On Marijuana’s Impacts In Colorado

Sheriff Concerned By Reports On Marijuana’s Impacts In Colorado
By Matt Murphy

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 7, 2016...Reports about the disproportionate impact of the legal marijuana industry on minority and low-income neighborhoods and families deserve a closer look, according to Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins, who so far has focused his opposition to the legalization ballot question on its health impacts.

A recent Politico Magazine cover story and Denver Post investigations have explored how the marijuana industry has proliferated in low-income communities in Denver, Colorado, and the impact that has had on economic development.

A separate report published by the Colorado Department of Public Health earlier this year found that juvenile arrests for marijuana-related crimes such as possession rose 5 percent since legalization took effect in that state, driven wholly by a spike in arrests of black and Latino teens. While white juvenile arrests declined 8 percent between 2012 and 2014, black juvenile arrests increased 58 percent and Latino juvenile arrests climbed 29 percent.

Tompkins, a leading voice for criminal justice reform in Massachusetts, said he is reticent to discuss how law enforcement in other states operate without knowing all the facts, but has read the reports and is concerned.

"If that is in fact the case, then that speaks to the larger picture of not only the use of marijuana being able to harm one physically, but also if this does break down with black and Latino and low income individuals being singled out that has to be looked at," Tompkins told the News Service.

Jim Borghesani, the spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, said Massachusetts and Colorado criminal laws concerning juvenile possession are markedly different, making the comparison a difficult one.

"I'm sure that Sheriff Tomkins is aware that juvenile possession in Massachusetts is a civil offense, unlike Colorado's criminal offense, so his statement is perplexing. Equally perplexing is his lack of comment on the historic racial arrest disparity under the current prohibition system, which we seek to change," Borghesani said.

He also touted the local control, through zoning, allowed for by the ballot question.

"Our initiative provides significant local control over the location, hours and manner of marijuana businesses, and provides an opt-out measure for communities. Results show that legalization is working in Colorado and it will work in Massachusetts," Borghesani said.

In March, the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association came out in opposition to the ballot question to legalize marijuana for anyone aged 21 and older. At the time, the sheriffs focused on the health implications of making marijuana more accessible to people.

Tompkins, who was appointed sheriff in 2013, said he supported the 2008 ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but believes the dangers of full legalization outweigh any criminal justice benefits from incarcerating fewer people on minor drug crimes.

"I do not want to see all of these folks in jail if there's another way for them to provide for themselves, but I really have to go back to the health issues," Tompkins said.

To read full report, click here.

7 06, 2016

As Legal Case Goes To SJC, Anti-Legalization Campaign Re-iterates Call For Marijuana Industry To Come Clean About Reliance on Highly Potent Products In Massachusetts

BOSTON – As a legal case challenging the ballot question to legalize commercial marijuana in Massachusetts heads to the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts reiterated its call on the marijuana industry to discuss the fact that it will rely on highly potent products in Massachusetts.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments in the case (Hensley vs. Attorney General) challenging the initiative petition to establish the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts. While the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts is not a party to the suit and ultimately the Court will decide the case, the campaign believes the legal challenge raises important issues, particularly as it focuses on the high THC levels of today’s marijuana products.

One Marijuana Industry representative in Colorado admitted that efforts to cap THC levels at a rate above what the Dutch government has moved to classify as a prohibited hard drug would “gut the industry” in that state.

Statement from Nick Bayer, campaign manager for a Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts:

“As this case is heard before the SJC, we believe the Marijuana Industry should acknowledge what we all know, that it will need to rely on highly potent products in Massachusetts to make a profit. This ballot question would open the door to the selling of a drug that is 400% more potent than the marijuana of even a generation ago, and edible products that have no restrictions placed on THC levels. People deserve to know what they are voting on, and this more powerful drug will have a great impact on families and young people. “

Some additional facts include:

  • Today’s commercial marijuana industry is producing and pushing products with average THC levels multiple times higher than found in the 1970s—frequently at or above the 15% THC level that the Dutch government has moved to classify as a prohibited “hard drug.”
  • Edible products, which the ballot measure specifically authorizes, make up about half the marijuana market in Colorado and would likely do the same here. Edibles use extracts with THC content that can rise as high as 90%.
  • In a recent interview, the head of Colorado’s marijuana trade association told a news outlet that an effort in his state to cap THC levels at 16% “literally would gut” his industry. Marijuana Business Daily quoted Mike Elliot, executive director of The Marijuana Industry Group, as saying the proposed THC cap would “would probably ban all the concentrates and most of the edibles and most of the flowers that people grow, too. Most of the flower that our industry is growing is above 16% THC.”
1 06, 2016

Retailers Association Of Massachusetts Opposes Ballot Question To Legalize Commercial Marijuana

Business Association Raises Concerns About Negative Impact On Companies And Communities

BOSTON – One of the state’s most prominent business associations today announced its opposition to the ballot question to legalize the commercial marijuana industry in Massachusetts. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts (RAM) cited numerous concerns, including the increased risks around job safety and the overall impact on Massachusetts communities.

RAM has been the voice of the Commonwealth’s retailers for almost 100 years, representing small and medium-sized businesses across Massachusetts. Among the business concerns that it cited included issues around worker safety and reports of higher absenteeism rates for employees who test positive for marijuana.

Local retailers are also active members of their communities, and RAM cited numerous concerns about the impact of marijuana legalization on families and neighborhoods. For instance, RAM raised concerns about the promotion and sale of edible marijuana products, and their impact on children. The small business community also is focused on maintaining a main streets environment featuring a mix of family-oriented business to continue to attract viable consumer traffic.

“The Retailers Association believes the legalization of the marijuana industry in Massachusetts is the wrong path for businesses and our communities,” RAM President Jon Hurst said. “The increased accessibility of marijuana will negatively impact worker safety and productivity in many companies across the state. Retailers also have a major stake in promoting safe, healthy communities, and the introduction of the marijuana industry runs counter to that goal.”

RAM joins the Associated Industries of Massachusetts as major business associations opposing this ballot question. It also joins a growing coalition of health care and community leaders, anti-addiction advocates, educators, first responders, and families who are opposing the legalization of commercial marijuana in Massachusetts.

Among the groups that have already come out in opposition to this initiative include: the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Association of School Superintendents, the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, the National Association of Mental Illness (Massachusetts Chapter), the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, and all Massachusetts District Attorneys.

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts is the Committee formed to oppose this ballot question. It has launched a website at and twitter account at @safehealthyma.