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State SJC Approves 2 Ballot Questions For November

The state's highest court has cleared the way for two ballot questions ahead of the November election: One calls for legalizing recreational marijuana and the other asks about new animal treatment standards.

In a ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Judicial Court rejected an attempt to block the marijuana question, but did order state officials to change the wording of the title and one-sentence statement that explains the measure to voters.

The justices said the current title and statement are "clearly misleading."

The court heard two lawsuits, one arguing that people who signed petitions supporting legalization were misled about the potency of marijuana products that could become available, including food and beverages.

The ruling came hours before supporters of legalized pot planned to turn in the necessary voter signatures to the secretary of state to assure a spot on the ballot.

The high court also decided that voters should have the chance to mandate new treatment standards for livestock.

The justices rejected arguments from a lawsuit seeking to block the animal protection ballot question while also contemplating a new deadline for filing such claims ahead of the November election.

"There is presently no such deadline in our Constitution or laws," Chief Justice Ralph Gants noted in his opinion. Gants said that the secretary of state and the attorney general proposed a deadline of Feb. 1 of an election year for plaintiffs challenging the attorney general's certification of ballot question language.

With reporting from The Associated Press' Bob Salsberg and State House News Service's Andy Metzger

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