Massachusetts MJ legalization campaigns face deadline

The two competing campaigns in Massachusetts trying to get recreational marijuana legalization measures in front of voters next November face a Wednesday deadline to submit signatures.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, announced Tuesday it would submit more than 103,000 signatures – well over the 64,750 needed to qualify for the ballot.

A spokesman for the competing group, Bay State Repeal, said in a recent interview that he was “cautiously optimistic” his organization would meet the signature requirement.

Massachusetts election officials will have to ensure the signatures are valid. In many cases, thousands – even tens of thousands – of signatures are thrown out, so campaigns typically try to get a big buffer.

The two campaigns have reportedly had a tense coexistence and differ in a few significant ways.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol envisions a tightly controlled system of growth and distribution, along the lines of Colorado and Washington State, and calls for a marijuana regulatory commission.

Bay State Repeal, which was recently endorsed by the Boston Globe, opposes license limits in most cases and proposes that the industry be managed through the state’s Department of Agriculture.

The state will announce this week whether the measures qualify for the ballot, said Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Massachusetts’ secretary general.

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