Massachusetts House and Senate Reach Compromise on Legalization Implementation Bill
The House had previously voted for far-reaching changes to the law passed by voters in November 2016; compromise bill more closely reflects ballot initiative
BOSTON, Mass. - July 18, 2017 (Investorideas.com Newswire) After weeks of talks and missed deadlines, legislators in Massachusetts have reached an agreement on legislation that will make changes to Question 4, the law to regulate marijuana for adults that was approved by voters in November 2016.
"After weeks of intense advocacy from Massachusetts voters, legislators have decided to respect the will of the people," said Matthew Schweich, director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign. "We are relieved that the legislature has dropped the House's 'repeal and replace' bill introduced last month, which would have made damaging changes to the law."
The compromise bill's most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted "no" on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019. For towns that voted "yes" in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve. The maximum sales tax rate (which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes) will increase from 12% to 20%. Under the bill, the state tax will be 17% and the local option will be 3%.
"The law passed by voters was well-crafted and required no alteration," said Schweich. "However, we respect the need for compromise, and while we don't approve of every provision of this bill, we are satisfied that the outcome will serve the interests of Massachusetts residents and allow the Commonwealth to displace the unregulated marijuana market with a system of taxation and regulation."
Last month, the House and Senate passed very different implementation bills before beginning negotiations to resolve their differences. Massachusetts residents made over 1,000 telephone calls to their lawmakers urging rejection of the House approach, while advocacy organizations put additional pressure on the legislature.
"We commend the Senate for holding the line on a number of important issues," said Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for the 2016 Yes on 4 campaign and the subsequent advocacy effort to defend the law. "Now it's time to provide funding that will allow the regulators to establish the rules that will govern marijuana cultivation and sales."
The progress in Massachusetts will likely add momentum to regional efforts across New England to tax and regulate marijuana for adults.
"Maine is in the process of implementing its marijuana regulation law passed by voters, while legislators in Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut all seriously considered bills to make marijuana legal for adults this year," said Schweich. "The fact that marijuana sales will begin in Massachusetts in just one year will place added pressure on Rhode Island in particular. If legislators fail to take action, the Ocean State will soon be senselessly forfeiting significant and sorely-needed tax revenue to its neighbor."
On July 1, Nevada became the fifth state in the nation to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults. Regulated marijuana sales are set to begin in Massachusetts in July 2018.
The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation's largest marijuana policy organization. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.
Like Marijuana Stocks? View our Marijuana / Hemp Stocks Directory
Join our Group on Linkedin - Marijuana / Hemp Stocks - News and Trends in Green Investing
This news is published on the Investorideas.com Newswire - a global digital news source for investors and business leaders
Disclaimer/Disclosure: Investorideas.com is a digital publisher of third party sourced news, articles and equity research as well as creates original content, including video, interviews and articles. Original content created by investorideas is protected by copyright laws other than syndication rights. Our site does not make recommendations for purchases or sale of stocks, services or products. Nothing on our sites should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell products or securities. All investment involves risk and possible loss of investment. This site is currently compensated for news publication and distribution, social media and marketing, content creation and more. Contact each company directly regarding content and press release questions. Disclosure is posted for each compensated news release, content published /created if required but otherwise the news was not compensated for and was published for the sole interest of our readers and followers. More disclaimer info: https://www.investorideas.com/About/Disclaimer.asp Learn more about publishing your news release on the Investorideas.com newswire https://www.investorideas.com/News-Upload/
Additional info regarding BC Residents and global Investors: Effective September 15 2008 - all BC investors should review all OTC and Pink sheet listed companies for adherence in new disclosure filings and filing appropriate documents with Sedar. Read for more info: https://www.bcsc.bc.ca/release.aspx?id=6894. Global investors must adhere to regulations of each country.