The times might be a’-changin’ in Mass.

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Massachusetts could see some serious changes if several petitioned ballot initiatives make their way to the voting booths in 2012.

Two of the more prominent law-hopefuls could turn the Bay State into a gambling hot-spot and home to legalized medical marijuana.

Others would let citizens ask for their own “death with dignity,” or allow food-shoppers to grab their wine at supermarkets, provided petitioners jump certain hurdles by a November deadline, and garner enough voter support.

Cynthia Eid, consultant for a group pushing for beer and wine sales in supermarkets, said because the legislature has beaten back the proposal, supporters are taking it to the ballot out of pure frustration.
“Thirty-four other states already allow it. The grocery stores have found that their customers like the convenience of one-stop shopping,” she said.

But Dan Kennedy, journalism professor at Northeastern University and political and media blogger, said similar measures in the past have been defeated because package store owners and police were able to raise fears that passage would make it easier for minors to buy alcohol.

Kennedy said there are some obstacles ahead before any of the questions hit the ballot, including a push to get three casinos in the state and to allow assisted suicide via drugs.

The Attorney General’s office has to approve the initiatives first.

Then supporters would need to collect 69,000 signatures from registered voters.

If they succeed, however, Bostonians may find themselves voting on whether or not they want legalized medical marijuana by next year.

“We found in general that the public is far ahead of the legislature on this,”  said Morgan Fox, communications manager for the Washington D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project.

Fox claimed that in Massachusetts, medical marijuana enjoys 81 percent support.

He said when making the medical marijuana decision, people may look at how recent decriminalization of small amounts of the drug “wasn’t a disaster.”

As for casinos, Kennedy said polls tend to show that voters favor casinos in the abstract but oppose them if there is an attempt to get them built in their backyard.

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear.


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