The Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy reported a bill out of committee on Wednesday that makes substantial changes to the recreational marijuana law passed by referendum last year and establishes a new regulatory structure for marijuana in the Commonwealth.
Some of the key changes proposed in the new bill are:
- The creation of a 5 member Cannabis Control Commission, responsible for oversight of both the recreational and medical marijuana programs (medical marijuana is currently under the purview of the Department of Public Health). The ballot question created a new office under the Office of the State Treasurer.
- A 28% tax on recreational sales, up from a 12% tax provided for in the existing law (medical marijuana continues to not be taxed).
- A different mechanism for local control, cities and towns will no longer have a local referendum on banning recreational marijuana facilities, those decisions could instead be made by local elected and appointed officials.
The House is expected to take up the committee legislation shortly. State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, responsible for regulating the recreational program under the current law voiced particular concerns with the commission structure.
Members of the Senate and the Senate Chair of the Marijuana Committee, Senator Patricia Jehlen, have indicated that they are not in favor of the legislation as reported out of committee. Legislative leadership hopes to get a bill to Governor Baker by the end of the month.
A copy of the committee legislation can be found here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3751