Massachusett Lawmakers Delay Recreational Marijuana Without Voter Approval

6 Month Delay For Recreational Marijuana In Massachusetts- A bill was approved in Massachusetts that would overturn significant parts of the marijuana legalization law that 1.8 million voters approved just last month.

With no public hearings and little public notice,  lawmakers passed a measure on 12/28/2016 to delay the likely opening date for recreational marijuana stores in Massachusetts by half a year — from January to July 2018.

The bill was sent to Governor Charlie Baker for approval,  the Governer has loudly opposed legalization. He called a six-month delay “perfectly appropriate.  Steven S. Epstein, a Georgetown lawyer and longtime legalization activist, stated  “They’re delusional,” of legislators, “because 54 percent of the people voted for it.”

Massachusetts’s Marijuana Legislation

A quick opening for stores in Massachusetts was necessary,  the state now exists in a legal gray zone: Marijuana is legal to possess but illegal to sell.

Today in Massachusetts Adults 21 and older can legally purchase, possess, home-grown, and use marijuana- The catch? – The only source of marijuana in the state comes from illegal sources. Only sales from the regulated retail market will be legal.

“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 leader in the marijuana legalization campaign.

Bill Session

Formal sessions of the legislative cycle have already ended, and during informal sessions which this bill was signed in the objection of a single member can derail a legislative measure. But no one voiced one Wednesday.

Democratic legislative leaders did a joint press release after the vote.

“Our goal has always been to make sure that the intent of the voters is carried out,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. “The delay will allow the committee process to work through the law’s complicated implications and provide a process by which we can strengthen, refine, and improve it.”

“The Legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety,” Rosenberg said. “This short delay will allow the necessary time for the Legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law.”

But Mason Tvert, a national advocate for legalization at the Marijuana Policy Project, commented on the press release

“The will of the voters was to protect public health and public safety by regulating marijuana,” Tvert said. “By delaying the regulation of marijuana, lawmakers are delaying the protection of public health and public safety.”

 

Who Sponsered The Bill?

Senator Jason M. Lewis, is the lawmaker who sponsored the pot-delay bill, he said, the bill “should come as no surprise to anyone” since top officials have spoken publicly about a delay for weeks. He stated the original legislation had an “extremely aggressive timeframe.”

Colorado had an almost identical number of days between the legalization vote and when retail stores opened, but Lewis said, “In many ways, they have been building the plane while it is in flight.”

Lewis, who traveled to Colorado earlier this year with the Legislature’s special marijuana committee, said the goal of the delay is to allow laws like that to be put in place before there are adverse effects on public health and safety in Massachusetts.

“Coming out of Colorado and other states, you see conflicting data on the impacts of legalization. . . . And one of the main reasons for the conflicting data is: They didn’t have good baseline data from before a commercial marijuana industry began to compare to the current reality,” Lewis said.

Baker has 10 days to act on the pot-delay bill. Among his options: signing it into law or vetoing it.

Resource: Boston Globe

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