Massachusetts legalized recreational marijuana on Tuesday in a 54 to 46 percent vote. The plant becomes legal on December 15th. Residents can grow up to 12 plants and weed shops will be allowed to open starting January 1, 2018. But this timeline has left Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg more than a little concerned. She is asking legislators to push back the January 2018 date in order to allow time to review the law in detail and make some adjustments to the aspects that are of concern to her. She said in a state interview, “If the world is moving toward recreational marijuana, then we have to do it correctly. And I believe that we can,” clarifying that “nobody wants to do this in a sloppy fashion.”
Reasoning for Pushing Back Opening of Weed Shops
One of her focuses is to raise the tax on marijuana in order to pay for the industry to regulate itself and still have money left over. The law places a 3.75 percent tax on top of Massachusetts’ 6.25 percent sales tax. It also allows cities and towns within the state to add an extra 2 percent on cannabis sold in the area. Another concern for Goldberg is the fact that residents can grow up to 12 plants. She is concerned that this will put a dent in retail sales. She expressed worry over how long it would take them to create a seed to sale tracking system, ultimately asking that the date weed shops open be pushed back in order to address these concerns.
Reservations About Timeline Alterations
Spokesperson for Question 4 Jim Borghesani believes that Goldberg’s concerns are unfounded. The people who back the 8,000 word law believe that the timeline, tax rate and home growing are all reasonable with no need for change. Borghesani stated that Colorado had the same timeline and achieved the task with no issues. He doesn’t see how Massachusetts can’t be as efficient as any other state in following the process set out under the new law. Borghesani is concerned that if the taxes are raised too high, the black market would continue to thrive. He believes that this tax rate is balanced enough so that the industry pays for itself while drowning the black market. He has also stated that the home growing provision was a part of what residents were voting for and is uncomfortable eliminating it now as Goldberg is suggesting.
The Cannabis Control Commission
The law states that Massachusetts has until March 1, 2017, to appoint a Cannabis Control Commission of 3 people who would oversee and be responsible for recreational marijuana in the state. The commission would need to write all the recreational marijuana regulations for the state by September 15, 2017. They will then have until October 1st to start accepting applications for all marijuana related licenses, including retail, grow, testing and manufacturing licenses.
The discussion continues and ultimately some decisions will need to be made. At any rate, recreational marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts for adults over 21 beginning December 15th and this will be honored regardless of the details or what exact date weeds shops will open.