BOSTON (WWLP) – A bill to reform the state’s voter-approved marijuana ballot law is finally making it’s way to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk after nearly three weeks of delays.
The Senate advanced the final pot proposal to the governor Thursday for final review.
Massachusetts voters legalized recreational marijuana in November of last year, but more than eight months later, the state has yet to fully implement the law. But lawmakers are now one step closer to changing the voter-approved pot law.
The House in a 136-11 vote Wednesday and Senate in a 32-6 vote Thursday voted to approve a bill to reform measures of the ballot law, including tax rate and control over banning pot shops in cities and towns.
The final bill calls for a 20 percent tax on pot sales, a rate that nearly doubles the maximum 12 percent tax voters approved.
“The rate that was set by the ballot question wasn’t enough to implement the regulatory structure that would be required for a brand new industry such as marijuana,” State Rep. Michael Finn (D-West Springfield) told 22News. “We can always revisit this if something’s not working.”
Massachusetts would have one of the lowest recreational pot taxes in the nation, with states like Washington charging a 37 percent tax. But Maine is expected to have a 10 percent tax, presenting nearby competition.
Several lawmakers opposed the pot proposal with concerns over tax rate, public safety and long-term affects on communities.
“I don’t think 5 years, 10 years, 20 years from now, we’re going to look back on this decision to legalize marijuana and think it was a good decision,” State Senator Don Humason (R-Westfield) told 22News. “I think there’s going to be a lot of buyers remorse.”
Your city or town can decide to ban pot shops from opening