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Boston Archdiocese contributes $850K to anti-marijauna campaign

Legalization would be bad for youth, needy populations, church says.

Massachusetts voters decide Nov. 8 whether to make legal marijuana the law of the Reuters

In a last-minute effort to thwart a state ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, the Boston Archdiocese has contributed $850,000 to the anti-marijuana campaign.

The Catholic Church’s contribution is the second-largest donation received by the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, and reflects the church’s view that a yes on Question 4 would cause increased drug use and strain diocese-run social services.

“The contribution reflectsthefact that theArchdiocese holds this matter as among the highestpriorities, with recognition that if passed this proposed law wouldhave significant detrimental impact on our parishesand our social outreach and support ministries,” Terrance Donilon, archdiocese spokesman, said to Metro Boston.

The money comes from an unrestricted central ministry fund and did not come from parish collections or cash designated for parish support, Donilon added.

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So far, the pro-legalization group Yes on 4 has outspent anti-legalization efforts by $1.3 million, an analysis of state campaign finance records showed. But as of Oct. 20, the anti-marijuana Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, still had $1.5 million to spend. The church contribution brings that total to $2.4 million with just over a week left until the election.

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"The archdiocese is part of a broad coalition of health experts and advocates focused on protecting the most vulnerable among us that are opposing Question 4. We will be working with them and our entire coalition to communicate the harmful impact of allowing the predatory marijuana industry into Massachusetts," Nicholas Bayer, campaign manager for Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, said.

On Nov. 8 voters will decide whether to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in Massachusetts. Pro-legalization voters have a slight lead, according a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll.

Voters say they are not particularly concerned about potential harmful impact of the drug which shows attempted “scare tactics” by the anti-marijuana lobby aren’t working, Will Luzier, campaign director for Yes on 4 said.

“Our opponents have been using the opioid epidemic as a scare tactic to scare people into voting ‘no,’” he said. “I think everyone understands the opioid problem was caused by an over-prescription of pain killers and has nothing to do with marijuana.”

The state anticipates about $100 million in new revenue if Question 4 passes and Luzier said it would be up to the legislature to decide how to spend that money. It could be used to support prevention programs and efforts to help opioid addicts, he said.