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The Department of Public Health has issued a warning to Leafly that it may be in violation of the state law prohibiting advertisements for marijuana delivery services suggesting that they are operating without state oversight. State officials reiterated this week that the delivery options appear to be in direct violation of the provision of the medical marijuana law that limit most caregivers to one patient; and prohibit them from profiting in the transaction. Only the state's nine dispensaries are permitted to sell marijuana to multiple patients. After being notified of the states' concerns the site Weedmaps had removed it's services.
In another development a caregiver from Quincy has been arrested and charged with Distribution (marijuana) - Distribution (THC oil) - Possession (marijuana) With Intent to Distribute - Possession (THC oil) With Intent to Distribute) and Cultivation of Marijuana. Should he be adjudicated guilty of all charges he will be facing incarceration (minimally) of 5-7 years.
First statewide medical marijuana delivery service set to open

BROCKTON, Mass. — A Brockton medical marijuana dispensary is about to become the first to offer home delivery of pot to all of mainland Massachusetts.

In Good Health will offer next-day delivery to everywhere in Massachusetts except Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket starting Monday.

Company president David Noble says the service is needed because many medical marijuana patients live long distances from the state's licensed dispensaries and don't have transportation.

Only state-registered medical marijuana patients will be allowed to order, but they can request anything from the company's website including buds, edibles and oils.

The products will be delivered in unmarked vehicles, by two employees who don't carry cash, to cut the risk of robbery.

Delivery fees range from $30 to $75, depending on where the pot is sent.
Lawmakers may strip treasurer of pot authority
Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg is Massachusetts’ top recreational marijuana regulator, with unilateral power to hire and fire the officials who will oversee the new billion-dollar industry.

But probably not for long.

The Legislature appears likely to strip Goldberg of her authority, perhaps creating an independent marijuana oversight commission instead, according to several Beacon Hill officials familiar with the discussions.

And Representative Mark J. Cusack, House chairman of the committee overhauling the voter-passed pot law, on Monday floated the possibility that a “new regulatory structure, such as an independent commission,” might work better for Massachusetts than the current plan.

Cusack’s warning came in a letter asking the governor’s budget chief to hold off giving Goldberg money meant for pot regulation — funds that the treasurer herself had asked for just last week.

“I respectfully ask that the $300,000 currently in reserve be held until the committee makes our recommendation,” the Democrat wrote to Governor Charlie Baker’s budget chief.

Goldberg has publicly argued against taking away her power, saying her office has already spent substantial time preparing to oversee the industry and preparing an infrastructure to protect public health and safety. She warns that changes in oversight of the industry could delay when pot shops open.

Goldberg, a Democrat elected in 2014, said in a statement Monday: “We are operating under the law and will continue to do so until such time as the law changes.”

Advocates who wrote the marijuana law have said that making adjustments now would contradict the will of the voters. They also argue that Goldberg’s office, which oversees the agency that regulates alcohol, is the sensible place to house the new cannabis agency.

But proponents of the effort to strip much of the authority from Goldberg argue that one of the main reasons to change the regulatory structure would be to dilute the authority of any single elected official. That would thus minimize the influence the industry might have over regulators. (cont.)
Medical marijuana in disarray amid pot uncertainty

Marshfield Selectman Jim Fitzgerald is a firm believer in the medical benefits of marijuana. His mother used it when she suffered from liver cancer in the 1970s to manage the side effects of chemotherapy.

“I know the efficacy — I’ve watched it,” Fitzgerald said.

But like other municipal officials across Massachusetts, Fitzgerald is newly wary of medical dispensaries. In March, he joined his colleagues in deciding to not permit any in Marshfield until state lawmakers and regulators finalize new rules for the sale of pot.

The concern? That medical dispensaries would quickly expand to include sales of recreational marijuana, too. As written, the law approved by voters in November would allow that to happen without any additional local permission.

“There’s a big difference between medical marijuana facilities and recreational facilities,” Fitzgerald said. “Until the state gets its act together, any discussion of a dispensary is just a waste of time and air.”

Patient advocates said the fears of municipal officials about recreational pot are exacerbating a shortage of options for medical marijuana, especially in less populated areas of the state. More than four years after voters approved medical marijuana’s use, only 10 licensed dispensaries are currently selling prescription marijuana products in Massachusetts.

There are plenty waiting in the wings — more than 80 dispensaries have cleared initial regulatory checks and locked up locations around the state.

But just like cities and towns, many are in a holding pattern, struggling to finalize business plans and attract financing as Beacon Hill lawmakers contemplate sweeping changes to marijuana laws. Just this week, legislators threatened to strip oversight of the recreational industry from state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, a move Goldberg has warned will waste a year of preparation by her office and prolong the current confusion.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking: Under rules set by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which regulates the medical marijuana system, each dispensary has just one year to find a location once it passes a state screening. Any delays or false starts at the local level eat into that tight timeline.

Another uncertainty: threats by the Trump administration to enforce federal laws against marijuana, especially recreational pot, in states that have legalized the drug.

“We don’t know what the regulations are, so we can’t do anything,” said Jeremy Bromberg, chief operating officer of MassMedicum, which has preliminary licenses for medical dispensaries in Amherst, Holbrook, and Taunton but has delayed construction on them amid the regulatory turmoil. The federal threats, in particular, “at one point caused some would-be investors to pull back altogether,” Bromberg said.

Under the recreational law, medical dispensaries that opened or received preliminary approval from the state before Dec. 15, 2016, are allowed to apply for recreational licenses up to one year before other applicants.

The law also says municipalities can’t stop approved medical shops from applying to the state to sell recreational pot, unless residents vote to ban all recreational facilities in a townwide referendum. And if the state misses a July 2018 deadline to establish regulations for the recreational industry, existing medical facilities can simply begin selling marijuana to any adult.

Those provisions have kept local authorities from allowing many medical marijuana dispensaries to open. (cont with some more detail)
Implementation of rec weed in Mass is going about as well as the Big Dig.

Seriously, I love my Mass neighbors, and god knows we spend tons of time in Boston. But there is nothing that state cannot fuck up, if given a chance.
Implementation of rec weed in Mass is going about as well as the Big Dig.

Seriously, I love my Mass neighbors, and god knows we spend tons of time in Boston. But there is nothing that state cannot fuck up, if given a chance.
hehehehe....I remember being in Boston, in the dead of winter, in the midst of the Big Dig. What a mess.

But I will put Maryland up against any state for total incompetence in standing up an MMJ program. Can't wait to see how they fuck up total rec legalization on that day when it comes. Hope to be alive long enough to see that greased pig wrestling contest.

With recreational marijuana legal in Massachusetts, New England Cannabis Convention returns this weekend April 22-23

Months after Massachusetts voters voted to broadly legalize marijuana for recreational use for adults over the age of 21, the New England Cannabis Convention is returning to Boston.

Set to take place at the Hynes Convention Center on Saturday, April 22, and Sunday, April 23. Smoking, dabbing or vaping is not allowed anywhere inside the convention center, organizers say.

Organizers add a medical marijuana card isn't required to attend, but you have to be over 18 years old unless you're there with a parent or guardian.

Doors open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. both days.

The convention comes as Massachusetts lawmakers work to overhaul the new marijuana law. (cont)
Here’s what you need to know about the debate over who’s in charge of regulating legal marijuana in Massachusetts

BOSTON (AP) — Recreational marijuana may be legal for adults in Massachusetts but who ultimately will be in charge of regulating and enforcing the new law remains the subject of behind-the-scenes maneuvering on Beacon Hill.

A legislative committee created to review and potentially make revisions in the voter-approved measure plans to hold its final hearing at the Statehouse on Monday and deliver recommendations by June.

Emerging as a key point in the discussions is the yet-to-be-formed Cannabis Control Commission, which will be responsible for granting licenses to retail marijuana stores.

At issue is whether to keep the commission under the supervision of the state treasurer or make it a more independent body modeled after the panel that oversees casino gambling in Massachusetts.

A closer look at the tug of war over pot regulation:


What the voters approved:
The November ballot question laid out a detailed regulatory structure led by a three-member Cannabis Control Commission that would be appointed by the state treasurer, currently Deb Goldberg, a Democrat in her first term in the elected position.

Why the treasurer?

The framers of the recreational marijuana question sought a regulatory process similar to the one already in place for alcohol in Massachusetts. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, within the treasurer’s office, is responsible for granting liquor licenses and enforcing laws, including the prohibition on liquor sales to minors.

Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the group that led the pot legalization drive, said the alcohol and nascent marijuana industries are analogous.

“We frankly see that as the most efficient and most effective regulatory structure,” he said.


Independence questioned:
Suggestions for changing the makeup of the Cannabis Control Commission revolve around concerns that it could become politicized in the future, with two much power centralized in the appointees of one elected official.

The alternative most often put forth is to pattern the commission after the five-member Massachusetts Gaming Commission that was created by a 2011 law that authorized casino gambling in the state.

The chair of the gambling commission is chosen by the governor and the attorney general and treasurer each have one appointment. The remaining two members are selected in concert by the governor, attorney general and treasurer. The gambling commission is not under direct control of any single elected official or government department, allowing it to operate — for the most part — independently.


Differences of opinion:
Goldberg, who opposed the ballot question to legalize marijuana, has made few public comments on the issue but in recent testimony before the Legislature’s marijuana policy committee made clear her preference for keeping the commission within her office.

She noted that her staff already had spent considerable time studying the issues around marijuana regulation in preparation for appointing the commissioners, including travel to other states where recreational marijuana was previously legalized.

“After engaging with many different experts and stakeholders, we have a strong sense of what will work and what won’t,” said Goldberg, also suggesting that changes at this point could further delay opening of pot shops in Massachusetts — already pushed back to mid-2018.

Keeping cannabis regulators answerable to the treasurer could help avoid more unnecessary delays, Borghesani said.


Why it matters:
The debate over marijuana regulation may strike some Massachusetts residents as little more than political wrangling over arcane bureaucratic processes.

But decisions made by the cannabis commissioners will have wide impact on people who use recreational pot and even many who don’t.

In addition to licensing and determining where pot shops will go, the commission also will establish security requirements for retail stores; health and safety standards for cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana products; and testing and packaging requirements.

It also will be tasked with annually reviewing and recommending any changes to tax rates on marijuana sales.
MA Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy Reviews Long List of Bills

When Massachusetts voters acted to pass marijuana legalization back in November, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy was formed to help usher in the ever evolving cannabis climate. The committee, chaired by Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) and Rep. Mark Cusack (D-Braintree), is tasked with transforming a piece of legislature into a functional and regulated marijuana market in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Beginning on Monday, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy began hearing all of the cannabis-related bills designated to them — nearly 40 in total. The expansive list of proposed bills covers a wide range of topics, from driving under the influence of cannabis to how much retail shops will have to pay in taxes.

We’ve compiled a list of all the bills being heard by the Joint Committee this week including brief descriptions detailing what the bill would mean for citizens of Massachusetts, if passed. (definitely continued with each bill discussed)

For those in MA, you definitely want to follow the link to the full article and review the analysis of each of these bills and make your views known to your local representatives and Governor.
Pot Lobbyists Ready to Spend More to Defend Legalization in Mass.

Marijuana advocates spent millions of dollars to put a legal marijuana law in place in Massachusetts last year, and now they have indicated that they’re willing to spend more to protect the law approved by almost 1.8 million voters.

The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, effective as of December 15, 2016, indicates that adults may possess and use marijuana. After required licensing procedures, retail marijuana stores and dispensaries will be permitted to open beginning in July 2018.

Beacon Hill leaders have made clear they intend to change the law—parts of which took effect in December, the rest delayed six months by the House, Senate and governor—and the committee in charge of making alterations to it has already held hearings.

Jim Borghesani, was the communications director for the successful Yes on 4 campaign, which led the charger for Massachusetts’ voters to pass Question 4, the state ballot initiative allowing anyone ages 21 and older to legally purchase and possess marijuana for recreational use.

Borghesani and Yes on 4 campaign manager Will Luzier, now work with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a Washington, D.C.-based group that Yes on 4 counted as a “primary backer.” The MPP have given more than $350,000 to the Yes on 4 group since mid-2014, according to state campaign finance records. At the end of 2016, Yes on 4 reported having slightly over $13,000 left.

The MPP believes it was money well invested. Borghesani said the MPP advocacy group is prepared to spend even more money in Massachusetts—to make the case that legislative changes violate the voter-approved law.

“We’ve already spent some money on social media targeting, which we think has been very effective; letting some members know exactly how their constituents feel,” Borghesani said.

While Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo were contemplating which legislators to appoint to the new Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, Borghesani explained how legalization backers focused a stream of social media messages at officials in an effort to influence their decisions.

“You might see some other actions taken,” Borghessani added. “But until we see what comes out of the committee, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Of greatest concern, Borghesani said, are changes to the law that would “violate the will of the voters.”

Among those he listed as problematic, were allowing marijuana establishments to be prohibited from a town, by a vote of the selectmen rather than a town referendum; changing the legal age to buy, possess and use marijuana; and reducing the amount of marijuana an adult can grow at home.

Currently, the statute allows an individual to grow up to six plants, and there can be 12 plants in a home. Though it varies greatly, a single plant can produce as much as a pound of pot. No permit is required for home growing under these limits, as long as it’s for personal use and not for sale.

Last month, DeLeo and Rosenberg defended the process they have set out for implementation of legal marijuana, pledging that any legislative changes will not prevent adults from legally buying marijuana.

“We will abide by the will of the voters, and there will be the legal sale of marijuana in the state,” DeLeo said. “Having said that, I think we do have some work to do relative to regulation, relative to taxation and the like.”

Among the possible changes to the law, the tax rate on sales appears most ripe for revision.

The law established a 3.75 percent tax rate on marijuana sales, on top of the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax. Cities or towns have the ability to add their own two percent tax as well. The combined taxes of up to 12 percent are less than half the tax rate in Colorado, which made recreational marijuana legal in 2012.

Gov. Charlie Baker, in a recent editorial board meeting with the MetroWest Daily News, outlined what he wants to see in a marijuana bill.

First, the governor expects expanded local control and favors a cap on the number of marijuana businesses in a given area to control density. Baker also supports determining an “upper end” for marijuana potency, typically measured by the amount of THC in the product.

Child safety regulations, specifically related to edible marijuana products, also rank on the governor’s wish list. He told the Daily News editorial board he wants to see “the subject of children eating edible marijuana products, like brownies or candies” settled. If you’re underage, possession of any amount comes with a $100 fine and a mandatory drug awareness program.

The governor also mentioned a regulatory system that can track marijuana from seed to final product. This system is already in place in Colorado, and while he doesn’t want to admit it yet, Massachusetts would do well to emulate Colorado’s enormously successful system.

Even with more than double the amount of taxes Massachusetts is proposing, Colorado’s increased revenue from marijuana taxes have generated millions, which subsequently has greatly improved the state’s infrastructure, including better hospitals, roads and schools.

Rosenberg, who had previously suggested the committee should look into raising the legal age of using marijuana to 25 and reducing how much can be grown in homes, said he expects the committee’s work will be “fine tuning some items that are in there, again, without undermining the fundamental intent of the question.”

Committee co-chairs Rep. Mark Cusack and Sen. Patricia Jehlen said they are working with a June deadline to prepare an “omnibus bill.”

Mass people: support NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project, and Yes on 4 organization and ensure that your will, expressed through democratic referendum, is not undermined by a bunch of patronizing, we know what's best for you, fucking politicians. 86 any of these MoFo's who support rolling back aspects of this law and elect people who understand and honor democracy.

@momofthegoons - same issue, perhaps just change the title to just 'Massachusetts' to reflect all news in that jurisdiction, maybe?
Massachusetts medical pot dispensary selling marijuana pizza
By Associated Press June 7 at 8:18 AM
QUINCY, Mass. — A Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary has created a culinary delight for patients who don’t want to smoke their pot or eat it in the form of sweets.

Quincy-based Ermont Inc. has been selling cannabis-infused pizza for about three weeks to rave reviews.

Director of Operations Seth Yaffe says the company has a whole range of marijuana edibles, but he wanted to offer meals that patients could eat without a lot of sugar.

The 6-inch cheese pizzas sell for $38 apiece. The tomato sauce contains 125 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. The company has sold about 200 already. Yaffe says if patients want toppings, they can add their own.

Only people with state-issued medical marijuana ID cards are eligible to buy the pies.

This article has made me hungry.....huuummmmm, pizza!
Marijuana activists say leave ballot law alone

A bill that would change the voter-approved law is expected by the end of the month

This year, legislative leaders created the Committee on Marijuana Policy to produce a bill changing the ballot law written by marijuana advocates and approved by Massachusetts voters in November. After that vote, the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker quickly delayed implementation of most of the bill by six months, though it has been legal since December for an adult to use, possess or gift marijuana.

The committee expects to release its recommendations by the end of the month, and the activists outside the State House wanted to send a message that significant changes to the law will not be welcome.

"The new law will be changed and this is our last chance to influence the changes to our law," Jeff Morris, a member of the MassCann/NORML Board of Directors, said before many of the ralliers ventured inside the State House to talk with lawmakers.

Lawmakers over the years have largely avoided altering ballot laws, but they seem eager to change the marijuana law and that's likely to trigger constant debate over whether their recommendations go too far.

Reps. Denise Provost and Mike Connolly each spoke at Wednesday's rally in support of a bill (H 3195) Provost filed to remove restrictions on farming cannabis, remove limits on personal adult possession, authorize marijuana farmer's markets, and limit the bureaucratic aspects of marijuana oversight.

Downing said he expects that the committee will "make a lot of limitations."

Among the possible changes to the law, the tax rate on sales appears most ripe for revision. The law established a 3.75 percent tax rate on marijuana sales, on top of the state's 6.25 percent sales tax. Cities or towns have the ability to add their own 2 percent tax as well.

Both committee chairs — Rep. Mark Cusack and Sen. Patricia Jehlen — said they have no specific number or range in mind for an appropriate tax rate. But Cusack predicted at the outset of the committee's work that it will be "a major balancing act" to find the sweet spot where marijuana sales bring in enough revenue to support the regulatory system but do not make it cheaper for users to return to the illicit market.

The committee has also considered potentially removing oversight of the marijuana industry from Treasurer Deborah Goldberg's purview and creating a more independent commission in the style of the Gaming Commission.

The ballot law charged Goldberg's office with overseeing the three-member Cannabis Control Commission, but legislative leaders signaled significant interest in restructuring the oversight model. Goldberg has said removing marijuana oversight from her office would lead to missed deadlines.

The marijuana advocates behind the ballot question -- the Yes on 4 Campaign, backed by the national Marijuana Policy Project -- have said the most problematic potential changes to the ballot law include allowing marijuana establishments to be prohibited from a town by a vote of the selectmen rather than town referendum, raising the legal age to buy, possess and use marijuana, and reducing the amount of marijuana an adult can grow at home.

Cusack and Jehlen were not made available to speak with the News Service on Wednesday, but legislators had eyes on the ralliers.

Representatives from the Marijuana Policy Committee and the Senate president's office observed some of Wednesday's rally from a distance.

Protest today, protest tomorrow, and don't forget to vote these anti-democratic, self-serving, self-justifying fucking politicians out of office. Its completely outrageous that a law was passed by direct democracy and these paternalistic SOB's in the legislature think that representative democracy is better and are going to try to thwart the will of the people. Can't wait to see the reaction if these ass-hats raise the tax rate above that in the referendum law. Nothing more likely to get one of these sad excuses for a human out of office faster than an unpopular tax increase.
Start saving up: Massachusetts recreational weed taxes could be set as high as 28%
Medical marijuana would continue to be untaxed under the proposal

By Bob Salsberg, The Associated Press

BOSTON — Lawmakers reviewing the state’s new recreational marijuana law plan to recommend sharply higher taxes and more control for city and town officials over retail pot shops in their communities, according to a copy of a House proposal obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

The draft legislation also would make dramatic changes to the Cannabis Control Commission, which will oversee recreational marijuana under the law approved by voters in November, effectively taking control of the commission away from the state treasurer.

The bill was expected to be discussed by the Legislature’s Marijuana Policy Committee, which has been considering revisions to the law for several months, during an executive session on Wednesday. A vote in the full House is possible on Thursday.

Under the current law, retail sales of recreational marijuana would be taxed at a maximum rate of 12 percent.

The proposed House bill calls for a 16.75 percent excise tax on recreational pot, which would be assessed on top of the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax. An additional 5 percent local tax would be charged, adding up to an effective tax rate of 28 percent, more than double what the November ballot question envisioned.

Medical marijuana would continue to be untaxed under the proposal, and a portion of the revenue from recreational sales would go to a state fund to support substance abuse treatment.

The House bill drew immediate condemnation from the group Yes on 4, which sponsored the ballot question, with spokesman Jim Borghesani calling the tax provisions “irrational.”

“The House proposal in no way improves the measure passed by voters,” Borghesani said in a statement. “It weakens it and it insults voters in the process. Its irrational tax increase will give drug dealers the ability to undercut the legal market, and its removal of ban authority from local voters will give a handful of selectmen the ability to overrule the opinion of their own constituents.

The House proposal would allow the governing body of a city or town — such as the city council, board of selectmen or town meeting — to vote to ban pot shops or cultivation facilities from their communities or to limit the number of establishments to fewer than are currently allowed. The voter-approved law requires a referendum vote by the community at a city or town election to ban or restrict pot shops, which are expected to begin opening in mid-2018.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association has argued for giving greater control to local officials, saying the siting of recreational marijuana establishments is similar to other zoning decisions that are typically decided by governing bodies.

Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the association, said the referendum process called for in the current law is “totally unworkable,” in part because of the strict timetable for elections in cities and towns.

The association also has called for higher taxes to be collected on marijuana at the local level.

The ballot question passed with the support of more than 54 percent of Massachusetts voters.

The question called for a three-member Cannabis Control Commission appointed by the state treasurer, but the House proposal would replace that with a more independent five-member commission, with one member appointed by the treasurer, one appointed by the governor, one appointed by the state attorney general and two chosen jointly by those officials.

Democratic state Treasurer Deb Goldberg has argued against taking control away from her office, in part because her staff has already invested hundreds of hours preparing for the task of regulating recreational marijuana.

If approved by the House, the legislation could undergo changes when it reaches the Senate. The Senate chairwoman of the Marijuana Policy Committee, Democrat Patricia Jehlen, of Somerville, has indicated she doesn’t support an extensive overhaul of the law.

Seven other states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.

Ok Mass residents...your legislature is still at it. You past a law and you meant it. Please tell that to your supposed "representatives" or send them packing.
hehehe....think their phones have been lighting up from constituents here lately? LOL

Under pressure, Massachusetts lawmakers delay vote on recreational marijuana revisions

By Bob Salsberg, The Associated Press

BOSTON — House leaders announced late Wednesday they were postponing debate on a contentious bill that seeks major changes in the state’s voter-approved recreational marijuana law, including higher taxes on retail sales and more control for municipal officials over pot shops in their communities.

The full House had been expected to vote on the measure Thursday, but Speaker Robert DeLeo told reporters after a closed-door Democratic caucus that the debate would be postponed until at least next week because of procedural issues and concerns members raised over elements of the legislation.

“There are certain things we have to clean up,” said DeLeo, who still praised the overall bill as “terrific.”

Earlier Wednesday, a sharply-divided legislative committee voted to advance the measure, but without the backing of any of the panel’s seven senators and with reservations expressed by several House members. The Marijuana Policy Committee had for months been weighing revisions to the law that legalized adult possession and use of marijuana.

“This proposed bill directly assaults the will of the voters and is a prescription for increasing the illicit market,” for marijuana, said Sen. Patricia Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat who co-chaired the committee.

Excessive taxes would discourage people from buying the drug legally and keep illegal marijuana dealers in business, critics contend.

The law passed by voters in November calls for a 3.75 percent excise tax on top of the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax and a 2 percent local option tax, combining to a maximum 12 percent tax rate.

The proposed legislation calls for a 16.75 percent excise tax on top of the regular sales tax and a 5 percent local tax, for a combined 28 percent tax.

Language in the bill that critics suggested could effectively compound the tax rate to as high as 55 percent was attributed to a drafting error that would be corrected by the House.

Several senators on the committee also took aim at a provision that would grant local governing bodies — such as city councils, boards of selectmen or town meetings — the authority to ban outright or sharply limit the opening of retail marijuana stores in their communities. That power rests solely with voters under the current law.

“I’m also concerned about removing the ability of voters to weigh in on the ballot in their city and town on whether or not to allow the sale of recreational marijuana,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge, an Acton Democrat who voted against the bill.

Ten of 11 House committee members voted to advance the bill, though several also called for improvements.

“With deep reservations I will be supporting this out of committee but I will not at all hesitate to vote no on the floor … if this bill continues in the shape and form as it is,” said Rep. Aaron Vega, a Boston Democrat.

Another area of contention among lawmakers centered on the proposed makeup of the Cannabis Control Commission, a regulatory board that will oversee recreational and medical marijuana in Massachusetts. The bill would expand the commission from three members to five and remove it from control of the state treasurer.

Backers said the changes would strengthen the regulatory structure and make it more independent, but critics questioned whether the commission would also lack accountability.

Despite substantial disagreements, lawmakers said they still hoped to send a final bill to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk by July 1, to avoid further delays in the opening of marijuana stores in Massachusetts.
Yeah, bet these guys got an earful and backed up REAL quick, yeah?

Massachusetts Whiplash: Cannabis Tax Pulled Back to 12%

BOSTON (AP) — The debate over Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana law took a new twist on Friday with the release of a plan that would not raise taxes on cannabis and would leave decisions on whether to ban retail marijuana stores in the hands of local voters.

The proposal, unveiled in summary form by Sen. Patricia Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat, is in sharp contrast to a House bill that calls for increasing taxes on recreational marijuana from a maximum rate of 12% to a fixed 28% rate, and gives local governing bodies — such as city councils and select boards — the authority to keep pot shops out of their communities without first holding a referendum.

Jehlen is the Senate chair of the Marijuana Policy Committee, which spent several months considering revisions to the voter-approved law that legalized possession and use of recreational marijuana by adults. Senate members of the committee largely rejected the House version of the bill after it was released this week, with Jehlen calling it an assault on the will of the 1.8 million voters who approved the November ballot question.

“A high tax rate is not the will of the voters,” she said Friday in an interview after releasing the outline of the Senate bill.

Critics contend that higher taxes will discourage people from purchasing the drug legally, thereby keeping illegal dealers in business.

“You want to start low enough to make the legal market catch hold,” said Jehlen, who did not rule out raising taxes in the future.

Supporters of higher taxes argue the revenue will be needed to pay for regulating adult-use cannabis. The House bill also earmarks some of the proceeds from pot taxes for substance abuse treatment programs.

Even at 28%, the retail tax would be lower than in Washington and much of Colorado, states that had previously legalized recreational marijuana.

Democratic House leaders had originally planned to vote this week on their version of the bill, but put off debate in order to make technical corrections and address other concerns raised by members. A vote has now been set for Wednesday.

Jehlen said she expected the Senate proposal to be taken up within 10 days, setting the stage for negotiations on a final version of the bill.

The two chambers did appear to agree on several points, including a restructuring of the regulatory board that will oversee recreational marijuana, and removing a provision in the current law that gives existing medical marijuana operators a leg up in securing licenses for recreational sales.

Yes on 4, the group that sponsored the ballot measure, said it was encouraged by the approach senators were taking.

“On taxes, local control and social justice, the Senate gets it right,” spokesman Jim Borghesani said in a statement. “The House bill, even with its most egregious flaws addressed, adopts a hostile approach that would not serve any system of commerce well, much less the fledgling legal marijuana market.”
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House debates controversial overhaul of marijuana law
The Massachusetts House debated a bill on Wednesday that would repeal and replace the recreational marijuana law approved by the state's voters in November.

Critics who lashed out at the proposal accused lawmakers of ignoring the will of the electorate and taking a hostile approach to the legal cannabis industry.

The legislation would raise the tax on retail marijuana sales from 12 percent to 28 percent.

Other provisions include stringent background checks and fingerprinting for all people who own or work in licensed marijuana-related businesses. The bill would create two new enforcement agencies, one within the Cannabis Control Commission - a five-member board that will regulate both recreational and medical marijuana - and another within the state attorney general's office. It also establishes standards for the packaging and labeling of marijuana products, including edible ones, to assure those products are safe.

The bill would continue to allow adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to 12 pot plants per household, and allow retail marijuana stores to begin opening in the second half of 2018. But local governing boards, such as city councils and town meetings, could ban or limit pot shops without first asking voters.

Rep. Mark Cusack, the House chairman of the Marijuana Policy Committee, argued at the outset of debate the bill makes "sensible and practical" improvements to the ballot question.

"What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular," said Cusack, a Braintree Democrat. "This legislation gets it right. Right for the consumer, right for the industry and above all, it gets its right for the people of (Massachusetts)."

The Senate was scheduled to debate its version on Thursday, which seeks a more modest set of revisions to the current law. The Senate proposal keeps the marijuana tax at 12 percent and would continue to require a vote by residents before marijuana stores can be banned.

The ultimate fate of the law will likely be determined in closed-door negotiations by a six-member House and Senate conference committee. Lawmakers hope to send compromise legislation to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker's desk by July 1.

Hours before the House debated, several dozen pro-marijuana activists gathered outside the Statehouse to urge defeat of the bill.

"The message it sends is the will of the people be damned," said Will Luzier, who headed the November ballot question campaign.

Andy Gaus, spokesman for the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, said under the House bill anyone working in the marijuana industry is "presumed to be a criminal and will be treated that way."

Several black and Latino lawmakers also took issue with the bill, arguing it weakened provisions designed to help minority-owned businesses gain a foothold in the cannabis industry.

Legislators, even those who opposed marijuana legalization, have repeatedly promised to respect the will of voters. But many have also argued the ballot question was written with the interests of the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry foremost in mind - and paid too little attention to broader public safety and consumer-related issues.

Supporters of a higher marijuana tax say the revenue is needed to pay for enforcing and regulating marijuana. The House bill also calls for dedicating $30 million in marijuana revenues to substance abuse treatment programs.

Those advocating a lower tax say it would encourage consumers to buy the drug legally and hasten the demise of the underground market.

A 28 percent tax rate, Cusack said, would put the state in about the "middle of the pack" among the eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana, and below what is paid by consumers in Washington and much of Colorado.

- "The Massachusetts House debated a bill on Wednesday that would repeal and replace the recreational marijuana law approved by the state's voters in November."
- "What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular," said Cusack, a Braintree Democrat. "This legislation gets it right. Right for the consumer, right for the industry and above all, it gets its right for the people of (Massachusetts)."

Right....you get this? This arrogant and patronizing sack of shit, Cusack, just clearly said "we know better than you and if you just act like children and do what we say, you will be happy". Somebody....anybody in MA....run for this idiots seat and make him actually work for a living, please.
- "What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular," said Cusack, a Braintree Democrat. "This legislation gets it right. Right for the consumer, right for the industry and above all, it gets its right for the people of (Massachusetts)."
This seems to be a growing trend with our elected officials...... So I ask; whatever happened to democratic process? :idon'tknow: Did I miss the memo?
Massachusetts Senate Passes Opposing Legalization Bill to House Version
A showdown is brewing in Massachusetts, with legislative deadlines for marijuana legalization looming and voters left wondering if lawmakers in the House and Senate will be able to get on the same page in time for their will to become law.

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill aiming to end cannabis prohibition in the Commonwealth, an outcome the voters indicated their desire for last November when they approved the initial ballot question. The amended bill passed in the state Senate Thursday by a count of 30-5 and with far more support from legalization advocates than when the House passed a drastically modified piece of legislation, replacing much of what voters approved with remarkably different language and guidelines regarding taxes, local controls, and zoning among other points of contention.

“We are not starting from scratch,” Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) told colleagues Thursday morning. “We are starting from a law passed by the voters.” State Sen. Jehlen, Co-Chair of the Marijuana Policy Committee in Massachusetts, added in reference to the House bill, “We should not repeal and replace any of the referenda that have been passed, as others have recommended. We should amend and improve.”

While the House bill almost triples the voter-approved tax rate from 12 percent to 28 percent and removes the common voter’s direct power to control their local cannabis market, the Senate bill takes a more conservative approach to amending certain aspects of the ballot question. Whereas the House aimed to scrap most of the defining characteristics of the voter-approved Question 4, the state Senate set out to amend specific areas of concern while leaving the overall intentions of the law intact.

“This legislation sets up an improved governance structure for the oversight of the industry, ensures access to the market for communities who have been disproportionally affected by the war on drugs, and keeps the tax rate at a level that we hope will eliminate the black market,” Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg explained after the bill passed.

A 28 percent tax may seem like a great idea if you want to fill the Commonwealth checking account with haste, but what will stop a cannabis consumer from taking a short drive to neighboring states like Connecticut and Rhode Island that are both working diligently toward ending prohibition and opening retail markets of their own? Or worse yet, what will stop those consumers from texting their black market dealer in Massachusetts to avoid paying the 28 percent surcharge? The Massachusetts Senators recognize that there is an appropriate tax rate zone where both consumers feel comfortable paying a small fee for a safe and regulated industry and the state still collects enough revenue to sustain the market and maintain optimal public health and safety.

The two sides will have to convene and hammer out the differences in their contradictory bills before submitting one all encompassing solution to the governor for review by the state’s self-imposed deadline next Friday. Representatives from the Senate and House will now hold a conference committee this coming week to find common ground ahead of the cutoff so that recreational sales can begin when they are supposed to on July 1, 2018.

I am heartened to see that some politicians in MA do understand the concept of democracy. Be an interesting week in the MA legislature.

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