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Marijuana Ballot Question Faces 2 Challenges In SJC

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The state's highest court heard two challenges Wednesday to a proposed ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts.

Related: I-Team – Pot or Not

One lawsuit seeks to block the measure. It alleges that supporters have misled voters about its ramifications, including a claim by opponents that it would allow for the sale of genetically modified forms of marijuana with THC concentrations of 60 percent or higher.

That lawsuit also claims the ballot question is misleading because it does not talk about food and drink products containing THC. Attorney John Sheft, who represents a group of citizens opposed to the legalization ballot question, said 45 percent of what's being sold in Colorado are food and beverages. He said the proposed ballot question doesn't talk about that "marijuana concentrate" added to those products.

"What people are being asked to legalize is marijuana, hashish, marijuana concentrate, and also food products," said Sheft. "The things that are being sold and used are not the leafy green, natural-growing substance called marijuana that voters are misled to believe is involved in this law."

Some of the justices, such as Margot Botsford, seemed sympathetic to that argument.

"You say they know what marijuana is," said Botsford. "But I don't think that people think of marijuana as marijuana concentrate that's going to be infused into other kinds of products."

When the assistant attorney general rose in court Wednesday to defend the ballot question, Justice Robert Cordy also voiced his concerns.

"Having read your summary, I would have no idea that this authorized the infusion of hallucinogens into food and drink for sale at all," Cordy said. "Don't you think the public, the voters would sort of like to know that?"

Instead of tossing the ballot question, the court may decide to revise the summary to let voters know exactly what they are voting for.

The other challenge focuses on the title of the proposed law, "Marijuana Legalization." Critics say the title is misleading for a law that does not legalize possession of marijuana by people under 21 and limits its use by people 21 or older.

The court will rule on the challenges at a later date, and the marijuana ballot question will likely go to voters in November.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports

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