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Medical marijuana bill likely on Mass. ballots this November


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BOSTON -- "Mary Jane" is a bad nurse, according to opponents of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. Three bills debated by the Massachusetts Legislature this session would expand the use of pot in the commonwealth. One would legalize the drug outright, and the other two would approve medicinal use.

The bill to legalize marijuana in general had a hearing and its fate has not yet been announced. The Legislative bill that would legalize medicinal use has been sent back to committee for further study. That bill was prompted by a citizens initiative petition and would seek to create 35 marijuana distribution centers across the state. Its hearing was held April 10. If the Legislature fails to act on it, proponents can gather 11,500 signatures in order to place the measure on the Massachusetts ballot in November.

"We believe that it's unlikely that the Legislature would pass any of these radical bills with an election coming up in a few months," said Kristian Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Mineau added that since marijuana is illegal under federal law, opponents are seeking legal remedies to keep the petition off the ballot. If that effort fails, voters will likely have their say in November. If the legislation passes, Massachusetts would become the 17th state to approve marijuana for medicinal use.

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