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Massachusetts Lawmakers Look to Change State’s Marijuana Laws

Mass Marijuana

Talk of changes to Massachusetts’ marijuana laws have been circulating. The State House wants to make changes to the recreational marijuana industry; Few to no changes would be made to the medical marijuana program.

Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill pushing back several deadlines for the industry, according to Mass Live. The bill gives the state six more months to meet important deadlines so that the industry can get started. The Cannabis Control Commission’s start date is also pushed back. This is the committee that will establish the regulator structure for the new law.

Rather than giving Treasurer Deb Goldberg’s office the duty of overseeing the recreational marijuana industry, the state wants to see an independent commission adopted. Some lawmakers want to change the legal age to purchase, possess and use recreational marijuana to ages 25 and up, rather than ages 21 and over.

One report said, “There is a large body of scientific research that documents brain development through adolescence and up to the age of 25.”

That was part of the reasoning for consideration of the change in legal age.

The state still can’t decide on its tax rate. Voters approved the law that would allow up to 12-percent combined tax. That would allow for 6.25-percent state sales tax, 3.75-percent excise tax and local municipalities could charge up to 2-percent more in local option tax.

Not everyone is a fan of higher tax rates on recreational marijuana purchases, as they believe it could get the industry off to a slow start.

A Senate report said, “Higher tax rates are likely to generate greater revenue for the Commonwealth, dissuade youth from consuming since they tend to be price-sensitive, and generally reduce market demand. However, they may limit the development of a regulated industry and drive consumers to purchase marijuana illegally to the black market.”

Regulations for stoned driving, possession limits, home growing, and state production also need to be solidified. One thing that is more likely to happen than other proposed changes is higher taxes on recreational marijuana sales.