The state of Massachusetts was one of the first to call their victory in passing Question 4, which will legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adult use within the state. The initiative will take effect on December 15th of this year – at which point adults 21 and older will legally be able to possess small amounts of cannabis, consume it and even grow up to 12 plants in their home. Unfortunately, lawmakers are already considering making revisions to the laws that were passed, which would reduce the 12 plant limit.
“I believe that when voters vote on most ballot questions, they are voting in principle. They are not voting on the fine detail that is contained within the proposal,” Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg said.
Lawmakers are concerned that voters did not study the entire initiative, but rather voted to pass the initiative on principle alone – and they are considering pushing back the implementation while they consider how best to go about the laws governing legal cannabis. Along with being worried that allowing home growing of up to 12 plants could harm the soon-to-be commercial industry, they are also considering raising the taxes and determining how the laws will handle stoned driving.
When it comes to raising the taxes, the ballot initiative only set a 3.75% tax – which is significantly lower than the taxes on cannabis in other states, which tends to range from 10-15% on average. Lawmakers are concerned that it will not be enough to cover the costs of regulating and policing the new industry and are suggesting raising the tax to around 10% to cover these costs. However, the Governor has not made any specific comments yet on whether or not he supports raising the tax.
“I think this is too rushed,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for Yes on 4, in a telephone interview. “The Legislature has a role to play, but I think they should respect the will of the voters, let regulators do their jobs and then determine what should be done, if anything.”
Those who worked with the Yes on 4 campaign would rather see this implemented as it was written, with revisions as needed in certain areas. Things that may also be revised throughout the implementation of this new law include whether or not edibles should be allowed, and if so, whether or not their potency should be capped and what sort of packaging requirements will be necessary. While there are things that may need revised, activists would rather not hear that lawmakers are making multiple changes to the law that voters passed while also pushing back the start of the legal industry.