After the election, Massachusetts became one of the first east coast states to move forward with legalization of marijuana for adult use – but now it appears that there may be a slight delay in implementing the new law. Originally, the law allowing adults to consume cannabis and THC infused edibles, possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public, up to 10 ounces in their homes, and grow up to 6 plants per person (maximum 12 plants per household), was supposed to go into effect on December 15th. Unfortunately, that may be delayed as it has yet to be certified by the Governor’s Council, an 8 person council who must certify the election results.
If you ask Secretary of State William Galvin, he will tell you that it is not a political move to try and purposely delay the law – but rather just the situation they are in due to “very limited staff, dealing with a lot of numbers and a lot of details. And it has to be exact; these are the official numbers.” Once they have the final counts, the Governor’s Council, which meets once a week on Wednesdays, will be ready to certify the new law and that there is a 50-50 chance that they will get to it in one of the meetings prior to the expected Dec. 15th deadline.
“I would hope that the secretary of state errs on the positive side of that 50-50, and that he and the Governor’s Council would be able to certify given the deadline date” in the initiative, said Will Luzier, who managed the successful Question 4 campaign.
Along with the possibility of a delay in the initial implementation, lawmakers are also considering pushing back the deadline for having the retail industry up and running. The initiative gave lawmakers until January 1st, 2018 to have the needed regulations in place in order to get businesses licensed and ready shortly after the start of the year – giving lawmakers a full year to get to that point. Lawmakers are thinking that may not be enough time and are considering pushing back the January 1st deadline to sometime mid-2018.
Activists and advocates for the initiative are becoming increasingly worried about these potential delays. After passing a law in 2012 to allow medical marijuana it took the state until 2015 before the first dispensary was opened in the state. At this point there are very few dispensaries open to patients and those who worked hard to see Question 4 pass are starting to get concerned that lawmakers may be slow to roll out this new set of laws as well. Hopefully that is not the case and they get the ball rolling – both managing to certify the election results before the Dec. 15th deadline and having businesses licensed and ready to open come early 2018.