On Wednesday about half a dozen state legislators in Massachusetts decided to delay the implementation of cannabis retail sales in the state from January 2018 to the summer of 2018. The legislators – who decided to make this move during the holidays when few of their colleagues were in town – say they need more time to fine-tune regulations and set up the bureaucracy; this is despite the fact that lawmakers in Colorado somehow managed to set up retail shops in the same timeframe approved last month by MA voters.
“The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is remarkable,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. “The voters have spoken and it is incumbent on legislators to carry out their will. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to impose criminal penalties on marijuana – doing so in 1914. After more than a century of this failed policy, it is time to bring prohibition to an end in Massachusetts.”
“We are very disappointed that the Legislature has decided to alter Question 4 in an informal session with very little notice regarding proposed changes,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the “Yes on 4” campaign.
The measure to delay passed the state Senate in mere minutes, which wasn’t hard since only 2 Senators were on hand. Passage in the House was even quicker with only five members in attendance. If a delay was so important you would think it could have waited until legislators were back from the holiday break.
Of course, all the talk about improving the law and the need to fine-tune regulations is just a smokescreen to do everything possible to delay full implementation of Question 4. But since the growing and possession of cannabis for adults is now legal in the state, all the delay does is give black market sellers another 6 months of no competition. It also delays the massive job growth that will come with the opening of retail shops.
Many think that foes of legalizations are the biggest roadblock to its implementation, but an even bigger roadblock may be the politicians charged with carrying out the will of the voters. They can delay and claim they need more time to create rules, all for the good of the people whose votes they are in the process of ignoring. And who can prove them wrong? How do you prove that more time is not needed to do something? Sure, Colorado did it, but that’s Colorado and this is Massachusetts and things are tougher there.
Think that last sentence doesn’t make sense? Exactly.