Advocates of marijuana legalization turn attention to Massachusetts

(FILES) This July 27, 2012 file photo shows a bud of Maui Afghooey marijuana displayed at the PureLife Alternative Wellness Center in Los Angeles. New York State on January 8, 2014 has authorized the use of marijuana for medical use. New York is the 21st state to allow medical marijuana, it will remain illegal to grow marijuana or to import specialized plants from other states. AFP PHOTO/FILES/Frederic J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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Advocates of marijuana legalization, emboldened by successes with ballot questions in Colorado and Washington state, are laying the groundwork for a similar battle in Massachusetts in the next presidential election year.

“In 2016, Massachusetts will find itself in the crosshairs for cannabis reform,” said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML, a national group in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

Massachusetts voters passed measures that decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug in 2008 and allowed its use for medical purposes in 2012 — both with more than 63 percent support. Buoyed by such results, advocates have launched a similar effort to both get a question calling for the drug’s legalization on the 2016 ballot and to raise enough money for victory.

But some critics and lawmakers caution that passage is far from guaranteed. Despite its liberal reputation, Massachusetts, analysts say, has a strong traditional strain that will make legalized marijuana a tough sell.

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