Mass. lawmakers pass bill delaying sale of recreational marijuana

Calvin SaundersDec 29, 2016

"This short delay will allow the necessary time for the Legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law", said Senate President Stan Rosenberg in a release issued Wednesday. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and legalization by the states has occurred only because of the blessing of the outgoing Obama administration.

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, who presided over Wednesday's session, said the bill would not impact any provisions of the new law that went into effect on December 15, including the legalization of possession, use, gifting and home-growing of marijuana. "Luckily, we are in a position where we can learn from the experiences of other states to implement the most responsible recreational marijuana law in the country".

Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican who is expected to sign the delay bill into law, will work with public health officials and others to put legalization into place, spokeswoman Lizzy Guyton said.

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"We're disappointed that a bill seeking to change a law passed by a solid margin of voters under the initiative petition process has been submitted in informal session with little notice to supporters", said Jim Borghesani, a leader in the marijuana legalization campaign.

Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat who supported legalization, told reporters at the time that if lawmakers slow the rollout, "it's going to be a very time-limited delay". About 1.5 million people voted against it.

"The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is remarkable", Altieri said.

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The state hadn't had a great implementation of medical marijuana.

The move by MA lawmakers to delay retail marijuana sales is in stark contrast to OR, where voters approved legalization in 2014 with an anticipated 2016 launch of retail sales.

The ballot measure established firm deadlines for the state to appoint the Cannabis Control Commission, draft and approve regulations, vet applicants and issue licenses for retail sales and cultivation, and to establish seed-to-sale tracking systems.

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Segerblom says allowing recreational sales as soon as possible does two things: eliminates the need for cannabis consumers to buy on the black market, and adds tax dollars to the state coffers. But at the same time, they have said they are keen to respect the will of the voters.

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