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Massachusetts Cannabis Law Overhaul Calls for Up to 20% Sales Tax

July 17, 2017
(Ozgur Coskun/iStock)
BOSTON (AP) — State House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Monday on the state’s voter-approved marijuana law that would allow retail cannabis sales to be taxed at a maximum 20 percent rate.

Highlights of the deal were released by a six-member conference committee that spent several weeks trying to resolve differences between the two chambers.

The compromise language mostly splits the difference between a House proposal to raise the total tax on marijuana to a mandatory 28 percent and the Senate version of the bill, which called for keeping the tax at a maximum of 12 percent.

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Under the agreement, consumers would pay a 10.75 percent excise tax in addition to the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax. Cities and towns would also have the option of adding a 3 percent local tax.

Lawmakers also compromised on the dispute over local control of cannabis shops. In cities and towns where voters backed the November ballot question, a referendum would be required to ban or restrict retail marijuana stores.

But in communities where a majority of residents voted against the ballot question, retail shops could be barred by a simple vote of the board of the selectmen or city council.

“We have protected the right of adults to grow, possess, and use marijuana. To give them access to a safe, legal supply, the bill removes barriers to the development of a legal market,” said Sen. Patricia Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat who was the lead Senate negotiator in the conference committee.

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Mass. Panel Aims to Strike Balance on Cannabis Taxes

House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, a Quincy Democrat who also was involved in the negotiations, called it a fair compromise that will allow for recreational sales to move forward and be properly regulated.

The full House and Senate are expected to vote on the compromise bill later this week, with no further amendments allowed.

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  • Michelle McHugh

    And so they will drive consumers to grow their own or buy cheaper stronger whoknowswhatitis black market stuff. Not a smart way to bring users into a legal (expensive) pot market. Kicking and screaming, lets rape the cannabists. It will be cheaper in NH and Maine.
    Greedy pols.

    • FlunkedAgain

      In defense of “whoknowswhatitis black market stuff”, if it contains seeds they can be used to grow a personal legal stash in Massachusetts.

  • FlunkedAgain

    This “compromise” is targeting out-of-state consumers more than locals who can garden. The lure of Other-People’s-Money appeals to locals.

    There will be many visitors from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut who will just choose the closest Legal Source. The ability to choose the Strain you want could offset the additional cost. While Legal Sources can exhaust their supply of Girl Scout Cookies, the Underground always has it in stock from their Heinz 57 baggie that contains Strains that haven’t even been grown yet.

    Even Medical Patients from surrounding states will be attracted because they can choose the form they want.
    In some States, Leaf or Bud isn’t available to Medical Patients.

  • Starmaykr

    They should be tried in court for their crimes against the people of Massachusetts. Crimes against our Democratic principle of “Majority Rule”. The first crime was not implementing the results of the first ballot initiative by not having even half of the Medical Marijuana Dispensaries we were supposed to have by now. We voted it into law and they broke the law! In an open door, open election we voted 12%. TWELVE PERCENT!. What right do they have to go into their “closed room” to alter the results of a legal ballot initiative? We voted fro a three person oversight board not a five man board with the Governor. That was not what we voted for. Trump won a four year term,by the same logic we could possibly go into a dark closed room a decide he can actually only serve a three year term. What has been written into law by a ballot initiative can only be altered by another ballot initiative. 20% is a crime that drives away all of this out of State money (from all of the surrounding saps who were not smart enough to legalize it). 20% is crime that drives people back to the same black market the new law would have killed,Dead, if not for this criminal rate increase. I say we let each local community decide what is best for themselves not these ‘closed door’, dark room, bureaucrats in Boston.