Recreational weed use is legal in Massachusetts, but you can’t just stop in a pot shop and buy your favorite strains - at least not yet. Less than a month after Question 4 - or recreational legalization - passed with 54% of the vote in the November elections, lawmakers in Massachusetts took matters into their own hands and voted to delay retail sales six months past the date that voters agreed on. And now, with more than two months having passed since the vote, legislators are convening again to add more regulation and delay the state’s burgeoning legal marijuana market even further.
According to Boston radio station WBUR, Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Hannah Kane are the driving forces behind the newly suggested regulations that would not only delay retail sales by another six months - until July 1, 2018 - but also add a whole host of regulations that weren’t on the ballot initiative voted for last November. While the November ballot made no distinction between flowers, concentrates and edibles, one new bill would push back the sale of concentrates and edibles for another two years.
In addition to the new retail start dates, Lewis and Kane have filed dozens of other bills, including a proposal to change to the legal limit of marijuana allowed in a person’s home from ten ounces down to two. A similar bill would curtail home-growers to six plants being allowed on their property instead of 12.
Other new bills would expand the state’s newly formed Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), add regulations for stoned driving that mirror those for drunk driving, add more taxes to weed sales, and give municipalities more control over the zoning of marijuana retail stores.
Lewis and Kane’s new proposed laws aren’t all designed to stop Massachusetts residents from doing dabs and baking magic brownies, they’ve also proposed a bill that would allow anyone in Massachusetts with a criminal record based on possession of less than one ounce of marijuana to petition the court to expunge their record.
For some Question 4 advocates though, the proposed legislation goes directly against what Massachusetts’ residents voted for on their November ballots. "People are seeing this as a direct attack on Question 4, a substantial revision of a new law that was passed by 54 percent of the voters," Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the Yes On 4 coalition, told WBUR. "People are very upset about the scope of this legislation."
Senator Lewis has a different opinion on what voters wanted. "What I believe the people voted for was to make it legal and safe to possess, use, purchase, sell and cultivate marijuana," Lewis told WBUR. "Everything I've filed in the bills is consistent with that."
Hearings to discuss and decide on the new legislature are slated to begin in February, giving Massachusetts residents only a matter of weeks to voice any concerns about the proposed changes.