In November, along with seven other states, Massachusetts legalized marijuana. In Massachusetts, Nevada, California, and Maine, recreational cannabis was legalized, and in Montana, North Dakota, Florida, and Arkansas, medical cannabis was legalized. Massachusetts, traditionally a very liberal state, has been battling back and forth over the pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana for a few years, now, since they decriminalized marijuana in 2008 and legalized medical marijuana in 2012. Despite the naysayers, Massachusetts voters passed the measure and plans to treat marijuana regulation like alcohol, which is the same platform California has run its pro-cannabis campaign on. Lawmakers in Boston are now pushing back against the established recreational legalization dates, trying to extend them and causing an uproar in the pro-recreational cannabis community.
In Massachusetts, the state will create a new marijuana oversight commission to control dispensaries, cultivation, and manufacturing and testing facilities; enact strict marijuana product packaging and labeling rules; allow cities and town to limit, regulate, or prohibit marijuana establishments; and put a 3.75% excise and 6.25% sales tax on marijuana sales – cities and towns could also add 2% sales tax on top of that if they so desire. Finally, people 21 and older will be allowed to possess marijuana and start their own home grows.
Well, basically lots of people were happy, including the hipsters in this photo, and some people were unhappy, including lawmakers in Boston. Unfortunately, some of the people who want to delay recreational cannabis legalization are heavy-hitting lawmakers in Boston. Some of the reasons that Massachusetts legalized cannabis for medical use were based on opioid deaths, PTSD, and chronic pain issues within the state; medical cannabis cannot be prescribed by the Veterans Administration because it’s not legal at the federal level, yet. Legalizing recreational cannabis throughout the state would help patients bypass this snag, allowing them to self-medicate without a prescription if they are over 21.
Massachusetts was originally scheduled to legalize recreational marijuana on December 15th, which is now less than 14 days away. Lawmakers in Massachusetts are citing a “delay in certifying votes cast in the 2016 election,” which could stop recreational users from smoking or consuming marijuana edibles in their own homes. This delay could also stop recreational cannabis growers from starting seeds (six per person, or 12 per household) and possessing up to 10 ounces at home and one ounce in public. Although pro-cannabis consumers don’t see it that way, William Galvin, the Massachusetts Secretary of State, said the vote certification is being held up only because the officials only meet once per week and may not complete their job prior to the December 15thdeadline.
According to the new laws, Massachusetts recreational cannabis dispensaries (or retail stores as they call them) will open in 2018, but officials in that state are worried they will have to push that date back as well. The main reason that pro-cannabis groups in Massachusetts are so fired up about the pushback is the state’s previous three-year delay when medical marijuana was legalized back in 2012. The first dispensary didn’t open until 2015, and consumers are afraid the same thing will happen this time around. There is also some debate over the wording of the law, and pro-cannabis groups are afraid they may have to deal with rewording that will change things about the law without their input (like what happened with Colorado’s Amendment 300 for social cannabis consumption). For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, but keep supporting the pro-cannabis revolution in Boston.