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Massachusetts’ Marijuana Panel Chair Aims to Destroy Black Market

Boston Dispensary

Senator Patricia Jehlen believes that maintaining a low tax rate on the state’s legal recreational marijuana market will help destroy the black market. She also wants communities to allow their residents to determine whether or not retail shops can open up or not. The Senator is also adamant about sales beginning in July 2018.

Senator Jehlen wants the legal marijuana businesses in the state to dominate the market, according to Boston Globe. She does not necessarily agree with other state lawmakers regarding the changes they want to the voter-approved law. She does not agree with those wanting to increase the marijuana tax nor does she support allowing community lawmakers to prohibit recreational marijuana shops.

Senator Jehlen said, “I want to immediately – as fast as possible – make possible a safe, legal market for adults who want access to get it. If it’s at a reasonable price, most people will prefer a safe, legal product.”

Jehlen intends to carry out “the will of the voters”. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg believes that voters didn’t read much into the “fine details” outlined in the initiative they voted on. The initiative’s petition was 8,000 words, but Jehlen still thinks that voters did their jobs to read into the proposal before casting their votes.

Jehlen said, “My guess is the voters are aware of the tax rate.”

The tax rate, at least for now, is 3.75-percent state tax, plus 6.25 additional state sales tax and up to 2-percent for local sales tax. That totals 12-percent tax on every recreational marijuana purchase.

Senator Jehlen wants to keep the tax rate as it is. She fears that raising the tax too much would allow the black market to continue to flourish.

Regarding individual community guidelines, Jehlen said, “I don’t think it needs to be made any easier; I think it needs clarification. If you want to have a legal market, it has to have access for people who want to buy it. If there’s nobody within 30 miles, or 50 miles, or 100 miles in Western Mass., if nobody is selling in a legal, safe market, the black market stays.”

A bill will be sent to the state’s governor by the end of June regarding changes and/or concrete rules for the industry.