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2016 Marijuana Initiative Takes Center Stage At Extravaganja Festival


AMHERST, Mass (WGGB) — With increasing support for legalized retail marijuana in Massachusetts, Extravaganja 2014 this weekend in Amherst is expected to draw massive crowds.

“I’ve been very lucky to be part of this group as everything steam rolled and it’s really exciting,” UMass sophomore and organizer Delaney Ratner said.

Friday was prep day for the event, which drew 6,000 people to the town green in Amherst. Ratner says nationally known cannabis experts are lined up to speak this weekend, with a big focus being a 2016 ballot initiative that would make retail marijuana legal in Massachusetts.

“I think adults should be able to use what they want recreationally. I think people should have access to their medicine and that the FDA should be willing to test it in federal situations, not just individual scientists taking their own risks, and I think the industrial properties of hemp are so sustainable,” Ratner said.

Others, like West Springfield Police Chief Ron Campurciani are concerned that legalizing what many consider to be a gateway drug will harm kids

“Nothing is ever a problem until it’s a problem,” Campurciani said.

His other worry is with car accidents.

“The concern is that ‘Hey it’s legal yahoo let’s go out,’ and people are going to be smoking and driving around and that’s going to be a real concern for us and it’s only a matter of time before it happens,” Campurciani said.

Even with medical marijuana about to be launched in Massachusetts, officers still have no regulated, court tested way to determine if someone is driving impaired from marijuana.

“It is very, very difficult to prove these cases so it’s not like alcohol. Alcohol is pretty simple,” Campurciani said. “We have breathalyzer readings. We know 0.08 or above, it’s above the legal limit.”

“Especially since tolerance level varies drastically for so many different people, I think that is going to be the most important thing in terms of science for public safety, is coming up with something in terms of driving but other than that I can’t really see any downfalls,” Ratner said.

A viewpoint sure to be celebrated this weekend at Extravaganja 2014. Historically, police have had really few issues with the event in Amherst. The event runs Saturday from 12PM-6PM on the Amherst town green.

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