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Activists hope ballot questions signal support for marijuana bills By Steve Leblanc Associated Press 1252000 1705 BOSTON AP When researchers launched the nations most ambitious heart study 50 years ago they chose Framingham a middle-class town west of Boston and cross-section of America Now supporters of liberalized marijuana laws are hoping voters in this Massachusetts heartland are signaling a fundamental shift in public attitudes about the states war on drugs On Election Day Framingham voters overwhelmingly approved a nonbinding question calling for a law that would make possession of less than one ounce of marijuana a civil violation with a fine of no more than 100 Voters in Ipswich Winchester and Harwich also backed nonbinding questions calling for easing of marijuana laws In March Amherst voters called for the repeal of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana Approval of the measures comes as the US Supreme Court indicated it will hear the federal governments efforts to block state laws allowing ill patients to use marijuana for pain relief Sponsors of the questions say they prove support for weakening of marijuana laws extends beyond traditional liberal enclaves like Cambridge and Amherst There is a terrific discernible disconnect between the public and our elected officials on the issue of the war on drugs said Allen St Pierre of the National Organization for the Repeal of Marijuana Laws Armed with those votes of confidence pro-marijuana activists are taking their message to a much tougher crowd Beacon Hill lawmakers One proposal would decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of pot by making it a civil infraction punishable by a fine Another would give a boost to the states 1996 medical marijuana law by allowing people to grow their own The 1996 law which allows people with certain illnesses to use marijuana is on hold because people would have to register with a state Department of Health research project Federal law currently prohibits such projects If they
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