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Group Urges MA Lawmakers to Hold off on Cannabis Law Changes

March 14, 2017
With a small bag of cannabis pinned to her scarf, RachelRamone Donlan attends a December 2016 rally in front of the Statehouse in Boston. The protesters were objecting to any delay in opening retail cannabis stores in Massachusetts. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
BOSTON (AP) — The group behind a ballot initiative that legalized recreational cannabis in Massachusetts is now urging state legislators to keep the new law intact.

The appeal from Yes on 4 came one week before the Legislature’s marijuana policy committee was scheduled to open public hearings on possible revisions to the law, which allows adults to possess an ounce or less of marijuana and grow up to a dozen cannabis plants in their homes.

Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the group, accused policymakers of creating a “false narrative” around the notion that the voter-approved measure, as currently written, is flawed.

“The new law requires no legislative fixes,” he said.


Massachusetts Just Legalized. Now What?

Before considering changes, Borghesani said, lawmakers should defer to the yet-to-be-appointed Cannabis Control Commission, a three-member panel that will serve as the regulatory body for recreational marijuana in the state. If necessary, the commission could later make recommendations to the Legislature for any changes, he added.

The Legislature has already voted to delay for six months several key deadlines contained in the law, including the original March 1 deadline for appointing the commission. The delay is likely to push the opening of the first retail shops in Massachusetts back to mid-2018 at the earliest.

Borghesani said Massachusetts is the only one of the eight states where recreational marijuana was approved by voters to delay the timetable for implementation or consider a significant overhaul.


Mass. Officials Go Against Voters, Delay Cannabis Shops from Opening

Legislative leaders on Monday appeared unmoved by the group’s plea to leave the law alone.

“It’s not our intention to undermine the will of the voters, it’s our intention to get it right,” said Democratic Senate President Stan Rosenberg. His comments were echoed by Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who shared advice offered by officials in states that previously legalized recreational marijuana.

“Almost to a person they said you should make sure you have enough time to set this thing up in such a way that you’re not constantly chasing it,” Baker said.

The legislative committee, chaired by Rep. Mark Cusack, of Braintree, and Sen. Patricia Jehlen, of Somerville, could explore a number of changes including an increase in taxes. The law currently calls for a 3.75 percent excise on marijuana sales, applied on top of the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax and a 2 percent local-option tax.


Mass. Panel Aims to Strike Balance on Cannabis Taxes

Critics have questioned whether the tax would generate enough revenue to cover the cost of regulating the drug.

Since the Massachusetts vote, lawmakers in neighboring states including Rhode Island and Connecticut have been considering the possibility of legalization more seriously. A public hearing was held at the Connecticut Statehouse last week on several bills that would allow for the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana.

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  • Michelle McHugh

    They are draggggggging their feet across their failure line. They failed to prepare for this law passing simply because they do not like being told how to make law. Our politicians have never worked well for us on marijuana. Now they want us to pay them for their delays. Kick em out.


  • Alan479 Martin

    They can’t decide how they are going to control, legislate and tax marijuana so they can reap their maximum profits and control from it. They try to prevent any public leverage on their power controls. If they have to pass a law, they will make sure that it is on their terms that will make everyone still totally dependent on them. Marijuana represents freedom from their control world and that just cannot happen.

  • Gary MacDougall

    This is the kind of stuff that makes me feel that voting out the incumbents is the only way to they will get the idea that voters are why they are in office and they have a job to uphold what the voters want.

  • massvocals

    MassVocals agrees . the legislators are high jacking the petition law 334 of the acts 2016
    please tell your rep to support S1062 repeal 2524 now 351Sen . Lewis bill

  • Michael Milburn

    I live in Massachusetts. One of the most important things to prevent is passing bad laws concerning marijuana and driving. Colorado and Washington have per se blood limits of THC, despite the fact that blood THC levels do not predict impairment, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. We need to speak out forcefully against any proposal for blood THC levels related to driving in Massachusetts.

  • Bob Btme

    >>>Critics have questioned whether the tax would generate enough revenue to cover the cost of regulating the drug.

    Connecticut’s legislature has already figured that out, and they’ve haven’t even legalized yet:

    >>>The Office of Fiscal Analysis also estimates it could cost Connecticut 14 percent of the total tax revenues to regulate recreational marijuana.

    • Alan479 Martin

      “Office of Fiscal Analysis” What a joke. 14% to regulate?? What kind of regulations are they planning. Investigate and track every grower and user?

      • Bob Btme

        In Massachusetts there have been scandals were public workers were found to have secret day-rooms with videogames, porn, and oxycodone pills.

        They may not investigate and track anything! They may just take the tax money and buy more pills for themselves

  • cars0153

    What is disgusting is that the day after Christmas 6 of the elected officials went to the state house and voted this delay. How dare they do this.

  • John Aikey

    This is our Country and they should not get away with changing the law/rules to justify there own satisfaction ! Also i agree we have just about had enough of political fairy tales, Lies and misuse of funds in our country. I totally agree with Gary lets just start voting them out, There is already to much dead weight lurking around this Gov./ Country.

  • Chino780

    It is absolutely their intention to undermine the will of the voters. They didn’t want it to pass and they made that abundantly clear. Colorado, and Washington figured it out in the time allotted. These dipshits spent time in Colorado last January to see how they deal with legalization. They have had ample time to deal with this with 9 months left, plus the 6 they added. The MMJ program here is still not right, and that got voted in 5 years ago.

  • Mark

    You would think our US states would think about the revenue this add’s to the overall money hungry government agenda’s that could be put to great use and the stress rate of people in today’s world overall. Thing’s aren’t so easy like they they were years ago. Marijuana actually reduces a countless number of problems mentally. I do agree in placing an age limit of 21 years old. But it’s actually harmless compared to alcohol which is legal and causes way more car accidents than marijuana ever will.

  • Raul Tsi

    How dare those uppity voters speak their minds and demand that the politicians they elect pay heed to their wants and needs. The politicians are the ones who know what is best for us and we had better learn our place and shut up and be good little bitches.

    NH only took 3 and a half years to get their thumbs out of their butts, and bequeathed upon the numerous voting citizens who need medicinal weed like yesterday, after they made damn sure they had control from seed to ash tray. A 5-page application, 50 dollar non refundable fee, a 2 month wait and we can choose one and only one dispensary out of the 4 that provide for the whole state. Prices that are nearly the same as black market prices. Short supplies.

    The previous governor killed the home grow option. Hopefully the new one will let it pass this time.

  • lovingc

    Idiots if you over tax it you are sending money to mexican cartels. The idea is to keep the price lower than the black market so it will dry up and people will give the money to the state. Or are the legislature trying to stop and subvert the will of the people. All of you pol’s need to pay attention the more time you waste the less time you will have in office!

  • mark

    The people of Massachusetts spoke, and the initiative passed, gads, go ahead with the plan and make it happen. Where I live In Washington state, sales at licensed pot shops now average nearly $4.4 million per day — with little evidence of any negative societal effects.

    That’s close to $1 billion in sales so far for the fiscal year that began last July, some $184 million of which is state tax revenue.