Governor Charlie Baker signed recreational marijuana legislation into. This fully implements adult use of marijuana along with a comprehensive health and safety framework. The Joint Marijuana Policy Committee negotiated the final bill that was accepted by Governor Baker.
The voice of Massachusetts voters has been preserved in the compromise bill, according to The Somerville Times. Communities wanting to ban recreational marijuana businesses have to do so via referendum. Officials in communities that don’t want recreational marijuana businesses in them can ban/severely limit production and sales.
Senator Pat Jehlen said, “We have protected the right of adults to grow, possess, and use marijuana. To give them access to a safe, legal supply, the bill removes barriers to the development of a legal market. It protects the rights of medical marijuana patients, and gives opportunity to farmers and to people who have been harmed by the War on Drugs. This bill increases public health and safety protections, and specifies ways to prevent products from appealing to young people. The tax rate remains among the lowest in the country, and the same as in Oregon, often seen as successful.”
Other important inclusions in the legislation signed:
- Zoning regulations set to not go against voter approved limitations
- Regulations can’t be used to go against voter-approved items/numeric limits
- New retailers/producers don’t have to wait a year to apply for licensing
- 3-percent local tax allowed on top of state required sales tax
- Host agreements for local tax capped to 5-year agreements
- Implementation of the law is the responsibility of 3 state officials
- Those with marijuana convictions get a second chance to become an employee in the industry – only those with convictions under repealed will qualify. Records have to be sealed to have the opportunity to work in the industry
- Priority licensing for those with experience in promoting economic empowerment where communities have been disproportionately impacted by high arrest rates/incarceration regarding previous marijuana laws
- Those between the ages of 18 and 21 will receive civil penalties for simple possession rather than arrests
- Medical marijuana patient records will be protected.
- Medical marijuana patients can file electronically with immediate access to temporary registration cards and immediate access to medicine
- Inspections for medical and recreational marijuana can be consolidated but records must be kept separate for licensing fees and medical marijuana spending
- Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can also write MMJ recommendations
- Medical marijuana will not be taxed
Also included in this legislation is the legalization of industrial hemp and reduces the 2-year licensing waiting period.
Adults ages 21 and older can grow up to 6 plants per person, with a limit of 12 plants per household.