A large win was accomplished for marijuana reform this year. November’s ballot saw 4 states elect to legalize recreational marijuana, ending prohibition across the country in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts. The states join Colorado, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and D.C. in officially legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use. Massachusetts marijuana legalization officially occurred as of midnight last night, making it now legal for residents within the state to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use. Question 4, the Massachusetts marijuana legalization ballot, passed with 54 percent and the Governor’s Council certified those results on Wednesday, bringing the law into effect on Thursday.
Legal to Own, Illegal to Sell
Government officials in both parties, including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, were opposed to the law but had no choice other than to listen to and honor the will of Massachusetts residents. Now residents may possess marijuana for personal use, although acquiring it is a little trickier. It is still illegal to sell marijuana in the state and officials will have until January 2018, to decide on all the rules and regulations as well as decide how licenses will be distributed. Once all the licenses have then been distributed and stores are ready to open, a 3.75 to 5.75 percent tax will be placed on retail sales, depending on which city is involved.
Further Details of Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization
Until then, residents can grow up to 6 plants per person with 12 plants total per household. The herb must be both grown and consumed in private, hidden from public view. Public consumption is strictly illegal. Adults may not possess over an ounce on their person and there is a limit of 10 ounces legally allowed to be kept in the home. Driving while high is against the law as well. The next year will no doubt be busy for officials in charge of setting up the infrastructure of the legal marijuana industry in Massachusetts but progress is inevitable as things move forward from here.
Influence on Neighboring States
Northeastern states are closely bound together in physical distance, making officials in neighboring states contemplate whether or not to take a similar step. Massachusetts marijuana legalization may inspire Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, as she has communicated that she is willing to consider the idea after Massachusetts passed the law. It will certainly be easy for residents from neighboring states to cross the state line and have access to the plant. It may be in the best interest of everyone involved that a legal, taxed industry be put in place instead.
According to a poll conducted in October by Gallup, 60 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. As of now, 20 percent of the country has decided to take that step. 28 states now have a legal medical marijuana industry. Despite all of this, the plant remains illegal on a federal level, although it seems only to be a matter of time before the end of prohibition is complete across the country. For now, Massachusetts residents can begin to enjoy their win, and step into the future unencumbered.