legalization of marijuana

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With all the focus on the ugly, roller-coaster presidential campaign, a referendum closer to Rhode Island’s borders hasn’t received much media attention in the waning days of the campaign. That would be the Massachusetts ballot question that would legalize recreational marijuana, which voters consider on Tuesday.

The latest public opinion survey for WBUR, Boston’s npr affiliate, shows a 15-point gap in favor of making the weed legal. The poll, conducted by MassINC, showed 55 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed.

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States that have legalized marijuana are contending with a new criminal tactic - smugglers who grow and process it for export to states where it remains illegal - and worth a lot more.

Colorado is the epicenter of the phenomenon, and it’s popping up in Oregon and Washington too. As Maine, Massachusetts and Canada consider legalizing recreational marijuana, the question arises - will the Northeast see a wave of new-age bootleggers?

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Governor Lincoln Chafee sounded cautious notes about legalizing recreational marijuana, when he spoke with the Huffington Post about the potential of legalizing recreational pot in Rhode Island. 

His administration saw the decriminalization of the drug in 2013, and medical marijuana has been legal for several years.

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In the run up to a Super Bowl between two teams from states that have legalized marijuana, thus giving whole new meaning to the term Bud Bowl, pollsters are taking the pulse of public opinion on  the issue in other states.

Today, Public Policy Polling released a public opinion survey that shows 53 percent of Rhode Island voters support changing the state’s laws to sell, regulate and tax pot in a manner similar to alcohol.