In Massachusetts, as lawmakers receive advice from those in states who have legalization laws already, it seems it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to leave the law passed by voters alone. Multiple change have been suggested – and the deadline for both the Cannabis Control Commission (a 3 person panel who is supposed to oversee the industry) to be appointed and for rules and regulations to be in place so businesses can start applying for licenses have both already been delayed by six months. As it stands now, cannabis won’t go on sale for recreational users in Massachusetts until sometime mid-2018.
One of the bills introduced was looking to severely restrict things such as home growing – cutting back on the number of plants and the amount of usable cannabis that could be in an individual household. Another looked to increase taxes on the sale of cannabis, which were originally set low with the hope of competing with black market prices and bringing an end to illegal sales as quickly as possible.
Just last month, two lawmakers were given the task of rewriting the laws surrounding recreational cannabis, including issues like taxes, limits on home growing, and more – and the bill is expected to be to the Governor by June. It seems that the issue they intend to focus on is taxes – but there is still the risk of other changes being made that may end up going against what voters had in mind when they voted to pass Question 4 in November. The Yes on 4 campaign recently spoke out to remind lawmakers of exactly that, calling on the legislature to leave the bill alone for now.
“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.
Activists claim that lawmakers are attempting to make the law passed by voters seem flawed where it is not – it set very specific regulations regarding home growing, taxes, businesses and more. They would rather see the Cannabis Control Commission be appointed first, and then have that small group make any recommendation for changes to legislature. Really, activists would like to see them leave the law as it is, and make changes if and when the time comes and only if necessary.
Sadly, it’s not likely that lawmakers are going to hear (or at least be willing to take) this advice from the group who put the most effort into getting this law passed in the first place. They worked hard to pass a responsible cannabis policy – and to ensure that voters were educated on what exactly it was they were voting for – and now they’re watching lawmakers pick it apart line by line, rather than leaving things as the voters approved them. Hopefully when the new regulations are finally written up, we won’t see many significant changes.