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Recreational Marijuana Faces Hurdles Despite Popular Ballot Approval

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Voters approved recreational marijuana legalization in Massachusetts Election Day, but alleged efforts to undermine the ballot are threatening its implementation.

The first potential roadblock is due to state election law requiring an eight-member body, called the Governor’s Council, to certify election results. As a result, officials said there is only a 50 percent chance the Council certifies the marijuana ballot at its next meeting Dec. 14. Advocates of marijuana legalization are frustrated with the announcement and worry it’s an attempt to delay implementation of the law, which takes effect Dec. 15, reports The Boston Globe.

Officials say it is simply a delay in the election certification procedures, however, some residents and activists remain wary.

“I would hope that the secretary of state errs on the positive side of that 50-50, and that he and the Governor’s Council would be able to certify given the deadline date,” Will Luzier, manager of the ballot initiative, told The Boston Globe. “I’m a little surprised, honestly, by that development because I just assumed the process was going forward.”

The news comes amid reports that state lawmakers are already attempting to delay implementation of retail shops until mid-2018. Question 4 in Massachusetts passed with 54 percent, making it the first state on the east coast to legalize recreational marijuana, followed by Maine. The ballot allows up to 12 marijuana plants grown per residence and allows for retail shops beginning Jan. 1 2018.

State officials insist that more time is needed to establish the regulatory structure and the Cannabis Control Commission, a three-person body that will oversee state marijuana operations. Secretary of State William Galvin says that marijuana activists have nothing to worry about, and promises there is no calculated effort to undermine the ballot.

“All those tokers can hold their breath a little longer, but they’ll be able to exhale by early 2017,” Galvin told The Boston Globe. “No one is trying to delay the marijuana question deliberately.”

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