Question 4, an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, passed with 53.6 percent this November. The measure allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana on their person, gift up to 1 ounce to someone else over the age of 21 and possess up to 10 ounces at home. The measure allows residents to have home grown marijuana and grow up to 6 plants. The details of the measure are quite clear and approval by the public has been registered yet the law faces some opposition from state officials who feel that aspects of the bill, including the policies on home grown marijuana, could be better.
The Initial Certification Delay
The measure was slated to come into full effect on December 15, 2016, but there’s an initial problem advocates of the bill are encountering. In order for a successful ballot initiative to pass into law, an 8 member Governor’s Council must certify it. According to the Secretary of State, William F. Galvin, the measure may not be certified by the December 15th deadline. He claims that there is no deliberate effort to delay the bill and that, at latest, it will be certified by early 2017. Galvin claims that all votes were not able to be locked in until November 18th and with the presidential election taking precedence, his office has been overwhelmed.
The Creation of the Cannabis Control Commission
On top of the delay, state officials are questioning the date given for stores to be able to sell marijuana. One such official is Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg who is in charge of overseeing the new industry. According to the measure, stores should begin to sell marijuana starting January 1, 2017. However, the treasurer believes it will take longer than the allotted time to create regulations as well as the staff that will enforce and manage them. A 3 person Cannabis Control Commission will need to be created to effectively begin the implementation and regulation of the industry.
Scrutiny of Home Grown Marijuana
Another major concern that has been brought up is home grown marijuana. State officials are concerned that home grown marijuana will not be able to be tested for safety or regulated in the same way store sold marijuana will be. Concerns that it will enter the black market are also being voiced. Advocates of the bill say that the public were informed about the aspect of the bill and clearly voted it in. They believe home cultivation is an important provision for people that don’t want to go to a store, medical patients that don’t want to register with the state and hobbyists.
Despite the delays and rough beginning, officials are claiming that they will, for the most part, honor the provisions in the bill. More discussion is imminent for now. Massachusetts was 1 of 4 states to legalize recreational marijuana this November. California, Nevada and Maine also legalized recreational marijuana, joining Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Washington D.C in having a legalized recreational market. As it stands, as of November, almost a quarter of the country has ended prohibition.