Marijuana supporters, opponents favor study on use

Supporters of legalization don't want study to delay vote, however

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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – This November, Massachusetts voters are expected to decide on whether marijuana should be legalized for recreational use. It is a contentious topic, but people on both sides of the proposal have agreed to one idea: measuring marijuana use while it still largely illicit.

In 2008, Massachusetts voters decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. In 2012, marijuana was legalized for therapeutic use. Several dispensaries have been set up statewide, including one in Northampton.

Opponents to recreational marijuana legalization say that a study on the effects and impacts should be done to establish a baseline for conversation. Supporters of legalization agree, but they do not want to delay a decision on legalization before a potential study.

Shauna Santos-Dempsey of Ludlow told 22News that she is not surprised that the idea of a study is being embraced. “I think the world that we live in today, everyone is looking for scientific proof, they are looking for hard numbers. More quantitative as opposed to qualitative data. So that quantitative data is important and vital to being able to get this question on the ballot. In order to get the people what they want,” Santos-Dempsey said.

During a budget debate in April, the House rejected an amendment to devote $1.25 million to UMass to gather data. That data would be more centralized on marijuana, rather than grouping it with other illegal drugs.

The potential November ballot question would determine whether to legalize marijuana use and possession for people 21 and up starting in December, followed by legalized retail sale.

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