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Will Lawmakers "Honor the People's Will" on New Marijuana Law?

Supporter of the new state law legalizing adult possession of marijuana in the Bay State are concerned about lawmakers possibly doing away with key parts of it, including a home-grow provision. (A7nubis/Wikimedia Commons)
Supporter of the new state law legalizing adult possession of marijuana in the Bay State are concerned about lawmakers possibly doing away with key parts of it, including a home-grow provision. (A7nubis/Wikimedia Commons)
November 21, 2016

BOSTON — Bay State voters approved a ballot measure legalizing adult possession of marijuana earlier this month - and lawmakers are already discussing possible amendments to the new law.

The law passed with the support of 54 precent of Massachusetts voters. Jim Borghesani, communications director at "Yes on 4," said the group is concerned about some of the ideas being tossed around.

Some lawmakers have suggested doubling the state tax on marijuana, to make sure the state has enough money to regulate it. Borghesani said that would undermine a major goal of the new law.

"We wanted to make it low enough to undercut the illicit market, and we think a 12 percent tax does exactly that,” Borghesani said. "We're worried that if the Legislature raises that, then the illicit market is going to continue to operate."

The next step in the process is for the Cannabis Control Commission to come up with regulations. Borghesani said he hopes lawmakers will wait to see the rules the commision adopts before they try to offer amendments.

Some lawmakers also are advocating doing away with the home-grow provision of the new law, he said, although it is in line with other states that have legalized marijuana.

"We do allow people to grow six plants per person, up to 12 plants per household,” Borghesani said. "And we do that because in Massachusetts, you're allowed to brew your own beer, brew your own wine at home, and we thought that was pretty analogous."

A commentary in the Boston Globe stated that the new law was written by the marijuana industry. Borghesani disputed that, saying he was in the room when the law was drafted by local people - including members of the ACLU and medical marijuana users.

"Saying that this was written by the industry is just ridiculous. We set up a regulatory structure, we give regulators total control; if this was an industry initiative, we would be telling regulators what to do,” Borghesani argued. "Instead, the regulators will tell the industry what to do. So, the Globe was just flat-out wrong on that."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA