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Marijuana News Roundup: Massachusetts Divided on Pot Legalization

Paul Ausick

As the November elections get closer, the arguments over state ballot measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use are heating up. In some states, like California where supporters have the upper hand in both polling and cash, there is more anticipation than suspense. But that’s not the case in the other four states where legal recreational use of marijuana is on the ballot.

The vote is much tighter in Massachusetts, where support for a recreational marijuana initiative (known as Question 4) has lost ground and is trailing by 10 points in the most recent poll, 51% opposed to 41% in favor. Supporters and opponents don’t differ greatly on the issue of legalization as much as they do on how the initiative is written and how a law will be implemented and enforced.

According to a report in at, some medical marijuana outlets that would have priority for licenses to sell recreational marijuana oppose the ballot initiative. Some object to the provision allowing home-grown plants and others object to the limits the law would set on local control of whether pot shops could open in a particular community.

The levels of oversight and taxation rankle some, including a Libertarian view that would allow any retailer to sell marijuana as if it were any other agricultural product, would levy no new taxes, and set no limits on how much could be grown at home.

These objections might seem light hair-splitting among people who might otherwise vote in favor of legalization. That’s a familiar story in politics, making the perfect the enemy of the good. Still, it appears that the vote for legalization in Massachusetts will be close, and supporters can’t afford to lose any votes.

Other states voting on recreational use measures are Nevada, Arizona and Maine.

Study: Can Marijuana Improve PTSD Symptoms for Veterans?

Roberto Pickering’s story is all too familiar.

The infantry Marine says he fought during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, lost some “good buddies” and returned to civilian life a “basket case” from battling a new enemy: post-traumatic stress disorder.

Pickering says he was pumped full of medications — from Valium to Zoloft, OxyContin, Seroquel, Lithium, Ambien and more — by Department of Veterans Affairs doctors. He tried to go back to school but had trouble adjusting.

He recoiled further after one friend took his own life and another died of a heroin overdose after becoming dependent on opioids through his medical care. Pickering moved into his parents’ California basement and found solace in the bottle while his life spiraled out of control.

Unlike thousands of post-9/11 veterans who have committed suicide, Pickering then found another way to cope: He began experimenting with marijuana about 10 years ago.

“This war doesn’t end when you come back,” he said. Cannabis “really improved my quality of life … I found what works for me.”

Read more in Stars & Stripes.