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Group backing marijuana legalization vote raises $2.4m

Seth Perlman/AP/file

A group supporting a ballot question to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Massachusetts raised more than $2.4 million since January, much of it from an out-of-state PAC pushing for legalization nationally, according to campaign finance reports made available on Friday.

Yes on 4 took in $2,469,875.32 during the recent fund-raising period, compared to $388,502 for groups opposed to legalization, such as the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, which formed in April.

Bruins icon Bobby Orr donated $1,000 to the Safe and Healthy campaign, the report states.

Of the $2.4 million raised by Yes on 4, $2.19 million came from the New Approach PAC, a group based in Washington, D.C. that supports legalization efforts nationwide.


“We are in favor of social justice, ending mass incarceration, and actually controlling and regulating marijuana,” said Graham Boyd, director of New Approach. “We think we can do a better job of controlling the harms of marijuana through a regulated system, rather than through the use of arrests and prisons.”

But Nick Bayer, campaign manager for Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, countered in a statement, “It is clear that the Question 4 campaign is being almost entirely bankrolled by out-of-state billionaires seeking to establish a commercial marijuana industry that will be focused on profits, not the well-being of Massachusetts families.”

The ballot question seeks to legalize the possession, use and giving away of an ounce of less of marijuana for recreational use by adults aged 21 and older as of Dec. 15.

Retail sales could begin in January 2018. Marijuana for some medical purposes is already legal in Massachusetts.

Marijuana-related companies were among the donors to Yes on 4; donors to the opposition included a beer distributors organization.

Other questions on the November ballot include a proposal to expand charter schools in the state by allowing up to 12 to be approved every year in low performing districts.


Groups supporting Question 2 have raised a combined $12 million since January, compared to opponents’ $6.7 million haul, according to the reports.

Voters will decide two additional ballot questions in November.

Question 1 would allow for a second slots parlor in Massachusetts and could lead to a casino near Suffolk Downs.

Question 3 would require, beginning in 2022, state farms and businesses to buy and sell eggs only from cage-free hens, pork from pigs not raised in tight crates, and veal from calves not raised in small enclosures.

Joshua Miller and James Vaznis of the Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent Meg Bernhard contributed to this report.