The situation can’t really get much better for medical marijuana in Massachusetts.
The latest poll found that a whopping 69% of likely voters support a measure to legalize cannabis for medical purposes in the state. Just 22% oppose it, while 9% are undecided.
That’s about as good as it gets. In fact, Massachusetts has some the highest levels of support ever for a state MMJ legalization measure heading into an election. If the numbers hold, it could be the most-supported medical cannabis measure in US history. Some legalization measures in other states – including Maine, Michigan, Montana Nevada – garnered around 60-65% of the vote. But none have hit 70%, which is in the realm of possibility for the Massachusetts initiative.
What’s interesting is that even a majority of Massachusetts Republicans back the measure (51%). Every major age group is also on board, with those 18-34 the most supportive (87%). Both male and female voters overwhelmingly agree that medical marijuana should be legalized in the state (65% and 72%, respectively).
This broad range of support virtually ensures that the measure will pass, barring a significant turnaround in attitudes.
Still, the relatively small group of those in Massachusetts opposed to MMJ legalization – most notably police chiefs and prosecutors – are warning that the initiative will lead to a host of problems, including increased crime and illegal marijuana sales. That’s to be expected, given that law enforcement officials typically come out against medical cannabis. This time around, however, their concerns seem to be falling on deaf ears.
The biggest question now is how quickly will the state implement its MMJ program (assuming the measure passes)? Its neighbors on the East Coast have struggled to start their programs and pave the way for the launch dispensaries.
Based on those examples, it could be years before patients in Massachusetts can visit a medical cannabis storefront and purchase marijuana. Those preparing to enter the marijuana business in the state should prepare for numerous delays, uncertainty and frustration. However, if support is as strong as it seems, the state might be forced to put its program on the fast track.