Massachusetts Lawmakers Quietly Pass Bill Delaying Adult-Use Market Rollout

Darin HammondДек 30, 2016

The Massachusetts Legislature on Wednesday delayed the key provisions of new recreational marijuana law after which the backer of the provisions are not happy.

The timetable for opening retail marijuana stores is now expected to be pushed from the beginning of 2018 until the middle of that year.

The leaders of both the House and Senate are on board with a six-month time frame for rewriting the state's marijuana laws after voters in November approved regulated sales of the intoxicating plant.

Mass. lawmakers pass bill that will delay sales of recreational - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Deborah B. Goldberg, the State Treasurer who was appointed as the chief marijuana regulator in MA, was a staunch supporter of the delay.

Baker would review the bill before deciding whether to sign it. "This short delay will allow the necessary time for the Legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law", Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said in a statement.

Almost two million MA residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana back on November 8, making it the first New England state to do so. The legislation passed today will extend each deadline by a period of six months allowing the legislature more time to improve the ballot question, take up issues not addressed by the ballot question, and allow the state more time to implement the will of the voters.

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"We are very disappointed that the Legislature has made a decision to alter Question 4 in an informal session with very little notice regarding proposed changes", he said in the report. About 1.5 million people voted against it.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Governor Charlie Baker have both expressed openness to a delay to protect public health and safety.

MA legislators were mostly not present during the busy holiday season. "The voters have spoken and it is incumbent on legislators to carry out their will. MA was the first state in the nation to impose criminal penalties on marijuana - doing so in 1914". Marijuana possession, home cultivation and use in private areas is now legal in the state, despite the delay of the commercial market. And adjusting the voter-approved law flies in the face of democracy, they say.

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Borghesani also said he and the rest of the legalization effort was "willing to consider technical changes to Question 4 so that the new law is implemented in a timely and responsible manner". Under Segerblom's proposal, the temporary sales would be allowed at dispensaries until the Nevada Department of Taxation begins issuing recreational marijuana licences.

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