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Marijuana News Roundup: California, Massachusetts Opponents Worry About 'Big Pot'

When Californians go to the polls on November 8 to vote, among other things, on Proposition 64, legalizing marijuana for recreational use, many of the state’s licensed pot farmers will vote against it. In Massachusetts, opponents of that state’s legalization initiative, known as Question 4, are using an argument much like that of California’s recalcitrant marijuana growers.

The issue is who will benefit? Among other concerns with Prop 64, California growers worry that the size of the state’s potential market for legal marijuana will attract big business players who will simply overwhelm the small grow operations that currently supply California’s medical marijuana market.

In Massachusetts, the initiative is running into opposition from the Catholic church, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the governor and the mayor of Boston. A state legislator also raised the issue of who will benefit:

What this is really about is commercializing big marijuana in Massachusetts. This ballot question is written by and for the marijuana industry and unfortunately it puts their profits ahead of the health and safety of our children and our communities.

The so-called marijuana industry is not exactly the oil industry, at least based on size and influence. But California’s pot market has been estimated to reach nearly $6.5 billion by 2020 if Prop 64 is approved. It’s not difficult to imagine large pharmaceutical companies buying into, and even eventually controlling, a market that size.

The Vote to Legalize Marijuana in California Might Have Its Greatest Impact Elsewhere

Would teen use of marijuana drop and roads become safer if Californians vote to legalize cannabis in November, as Rep. Ted Lieu has claimed? Or would pot shops begin luring kids with clever TV commercials that push drug-infused candy, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein has argued?

In August, those wildly divergent claims landed before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang, who had to referee a battle over dueling assertions that proponents and opponents wanted to include in the state’s official voter guide.

Her ruling?

Both sides were exaggerating and needed to tone down their depictions of a California future with legal, recreational cannabis.

November’s election is polarized like few in modern memory, from the presidential choices on down. But the intensity of the fight over Proposition 64, which would legalize the recreational use of cannabis, has stood out. Out of 17 controversial initiatives on the state ballot – including efforts to increase gun control and ban the death penalty – the question about pot is the only one so far that’s led to lawsuits.

Read more at The Orange County Register.

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