Boston, MA: With little debate and without taking public testimony, House and Senate lawmakers voted today to significantly amend Massachusetts’ voter-initiated marijuana law.
The vote sets the stage to delay the establishment of state-licensed marijuana retail facilities from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018. Separate provisions in the law eliminating penalties for adults to who privately possess or grow personal use quantities of cannabis took effect on December 15.
According to The Boston Globe, the "extraordinary move" by lawmakers took place in an "informal" legislative session with "just a half-dozen legislators present."
NORML had been urging lawmakers to adopt the law swiftly as voters intended. NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri called lawmakers’ action a "slap in the face" to the nearly two million Massachusetts voters who decided in favor of Question 4 on Election Day.
"The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is remarkable," he said. "The voters have spoken and it is incumbent on legislators to carry out their will. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to impose criminal penalties on marijuana – doing so in 1914. After more than a century of this failed policy, it is time to bring prohibition to an end in Massachusetts."
The move by lawmakers to delay aspects of the law’s implementation is not altogether surprising, as politicians and bureaucrats had previously discussed restricting home cultivation as well as raising the proposed sales taxes rate on marijuana sales.
For more information, please contact Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director, or Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.