Retail marijuana shops may be scarce or nonexistent on the Upper Cape next year, based on the latest marijuana legislation and the reaction from a number of elected officials in the local towns.
On Monday, July 17, the Massachusetts State Senate and House of Representatives agreed on a revised version of the marijuana legalization law that voters approved in November. Pending a final vote scheduled for yesterday in the State Legislature, the bill could go to Governor Charles D. Baker Jr., who would have 10 days to act on the legislation.
Resulting from negotiations by a six-member conference committee, the compromise among other things addressed a dispute among lawmakers over local control of pot shops. Retail marijuana stores will be allowed to open starting next summer in Massachusetts communities that allow them.
Under the new legislation, cities and towns where voters backed the ballot question, more than 260 of the state’s 351 communities, would require a referendum to ban or restrict retail marijuana stores.
In communities where a majority of residents voted against the ballot question, which include the four Upper Cape towns, a simple vote of a board of selectmen or city council could bar pot shops with no involvement from the community’s voters.
The new legislation also would allow retail pot sales to be taxed at a maximum 20 percent rate.
The rate is a compromise between a House proposal to raise the total tax on marijuana to a mandatory 28 percent and the Senate proposal to keep the tax at the maximum 12 percent approved by voters.
The compromise bill calls for consumers to pay a 10.75 percent excise tax in addition to the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax. Cities and