Tag: Massachusetts

Massachusetts Update: Sorting out the Cannabis Conundrum

BOSTON (AP) — After a week of sharp divisions and heated rhetoric over the future of the state’s recreational marijuana law, it’s now up to a conference committee of six legislators to try and sort everything out.

On one hand, there’s a House bill that infuriated pro-legalization activists by proposing a major overhaul of the voter-approved law. On the other, a more restrained Senate bill won praise from the groups behind the November ballot question.

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Democratic Rep. Mark Cusack, the House bill’s lead author, suggested before the votes that the two chambers were in about 80 percent agreement on their respective approaches.

There is, in fact, more common ground than readily apparent given the dialogue of the past week.

The House repealed the ballot question and wrote an entirely new law; the Senate keeps the existing law while offering changes.

Neither the House nor Senate changed the current legal possession limit of up to 1 ounce of cannabis or home growing provisions that permit up to a dozen plants per household.

Each place state oversight of recreational and medical marijuana under the Cannabis Control Commission, which would become larger and ostensibly more independent than under the ballot initiative that puts it under control of the state treasurer.

Both bills allow medical marijuana dispensaries to transition into for-profit companies, but eliminate the head start those companies had been given over other applicants for recreational licenses. Both set guidelines for the testing of all marijuana products by independent labs, and standards for packaging, labeling and marketing.

Both adopt diversity measures designed to level the playing field for minority and women cannabis entrepreneurs, and address the historically disproportionate impact the “war on drugs” had on minority neighborhoods. And with no currently reliable test for marijuana impairment, both ask a task force to study issues around driving under the influence.

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Similarities aside, barriers to reaching a deal by the Legislature’s self-imposed July 1 deadline are many.

A few:

“Repeal and Replace” or “Amend and Improve”

Perhaps the most fundamental difference between the competing bills: The House repealed the ballot question and wrote an entirely new law; the Senate keeps the existing law while offering changes.

More than just legislative sausage-making, it’s a central question conference committee members must resolve before doing much else. Do they start from scratch as the House did or keep on the books — with modest revisions — the law 1.8 million Massachusetts voters approved? The answer may well dictate the parameters of the final bill.

High on Taxes?

The sizeable gulf between marijuana tax rates — 28 percent in the House, 12 percent in the Senate — garnered the most public attention during the past week’s debates.

It may also be the easiest issue to resolve should lawmakers simply agree to split the difference. But the underlying issues are more complicated.

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Senators insisted on a tax low enough to encourage consumers to buy from licensed marijuana stores, thereby crushing the underground market for the drug. House lawmakers sought a tax high enough to pay for what the bill described as a “rigorous regulatory scheme” for the cannabis industry. The House also set an ambitious goal of directing $50 million in marijuana revenues to substance abuse treatment programs.

It’s unclear if a compromise tax of about 20 percent satisfies either or both sets of objectives.

Power to the People?

The House grants local governing bodies — city councils and town meetings for example — power to ban or limit retail shops from opening in their communities. The Senate bill leaves unchanged the current law that requires a voter referendum to shut the door on marijuana establishments.

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There is no readily apparent compromise, so barring a creative solution one side must give on this issue.

If No Agreement, What Then?

Failure by legislators to reach a deal by next Saturday would simply leave the voter-approved law intact, and allow Treasurer Deb Goldberg to begin appointing the Cannabis Control Commission. But a possible scenario in the event of deadlock would be to have conferees separate out and approve items they have consensus on, while resolving to address thornier issues further down the road.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Massachusetts Senate Passes Cannabis Bill Calling for Revisions to Law

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill Thursday calling for revisions to the state voter-approved recreational marijuana law, setting the stage for negotiations with the House, which just a day earlier backed a more far-reaching overhaul.

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The debate in the Senate over the reshaping of the law which allows adults to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 12 cannabis plants per household focused mostly on regulatory matters. It unfolded after the House angered many supporters of legalized marijuana by voting to repeal the existing law and replace it with a measure that would, among other things, raise the tax rate on marijuana from 12 percent to 28 percent.

“We should not repeal and replace. We should amend and improve.”

Sen. Patricia Jehlen, Marijuana Policy Committee co-chair

The Senate bill, approved on a 30-5 vote, would keep the current measure in place but with proposed changes in the way both recreational and medical marijuana would be overseen by the state.

“We should not repeal and replace … we should amend and improve,” said Sen. Patricia Jehlen, co-chair of the Legislature’s Marijuana Policy Committee, at the outset of debate. “That is what this bill will do.”

“We need to try to restore some trust in government by not overriding the will of the people,” added the Somerville Democrat, a veiled reference to criticism leveled at the House bill by pro-marijuana activists.

The next step will be naming a conference committee made up of three senators and three representatives that will attempt to reach a compromise. Legislative leaders self-imposed a July 1 deadline to deliver a bill to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk, acknowledging that further delays would jeopardize the planned July 1, 2018 start of retail marijuana sales.

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The Senate bill holds the tax rate at a maximum of 12 percent, as approved by voters. Keeping taxes relatively low, Jehlen said, would entice consumers to buy cannabis from legal suppliers, while a higher tax might persuade them to continue purchasing from an illegal dealer or perhaps even drive to Maine, where recreational marijuana will be taxed at 10 percent.

The House and Senate bills both change the structure of the Cannabis Control Commission, the state agency that will regulate marijuana. The ballot question called for a three-member panel appointed by the state treasurer, while lawmakers want a five-person board consisting of members named by the treasurer, attorney general and governor.

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A key difference, however, is while the House envisions all five commissioners working full-time at their jobs, under the Senate bill only the chairman of the panel would be full-time and the others unpaid volunteers.

Sen. Jason Lewis, a Winchester Democrat who opposed marijuana legalization, promised to support the Senate bill but sought assurances that the cannabis industry would not become dominated by large national companies.

“We don’t want to see big marijuana like we have big tobacco or big alcohol,” said Lewis, who joined other lawmakers in calling for programs that encouraged women, minorities, veterans and small farmers to own or find employment in legal marijuana businesses.

Senators adopted several amendments before the final vote Thursday night, including one that would make it easier for people to erase past convictions for possessing amounts of marijuana that are now legal in Massachusetts.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Massachusetts House Passes Controversial Cannabis Bill, Setting up Showdown

BOSTON—Late Wednesday night, members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted 126–28 to pass a bill that would essentially repeal and replace key provisions of Question 4, the ballot initiative that 1.8 million voters passed in November to legalize adult-use cannabis.

Not only have the changes in the House bill angered legalization advocates and Question 4’s authors, they’ve also set up a showdown in the state Legislature. The Senate’s draft bill, which adheres more closely to the ballot measure and aims to limit changes to the voter-approved language, was being debated on Thursday.

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Lawmakers now face a looming deadline if retail operations are to roll out on time for the proposed July 2018 launch date. And if the glacial pace of Massachusetts lawmaking is any teacher, more delays are likely. Even the special session seemed to move at a snail’s pace.

“At 5 p.m., more than 5 hours after start of session, the House just began working through the 118 amendments to pot bill,” reporter Colin A. Young tweeted Wednesday evening.

Both the House and the Senate must debate proposed changes before presenting a final version to Gov. Charlie Baker to sign by a self-imposed deadline of June 30.

Supporters of the voter-approved law favor the Senate’s draft bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville). Jehlen has urged lawmakers to yield to what the electorate voted to enact. “We are not starting from scratch,” she said at a press conference last week. “We are starting from a law that was passed by the voters. It is law, it was passed in a high turnout election, and we need to justify the amendments we make to it.”

“Since when do we tax medicine in the Commonwealth?”

Peter Bernard, Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council

Among other amendments, the House-passed bill would more than double the retail marijuana tax from 12% to 28%, establish a tax on medical marijuana, take full oversight of the industry away from the state treasurer, and create a five-member Cannabis Control Commission to regulate medical and recreational cannabis, with another member within the state attorney general’s office.

The House bill would also shift power to ban cannabis shops and grow operations away from voters. While Question 4 outlines a public voter referendum system to enact bans, the House bill instead grants that power to politicians and municipal officials, such as boards of selectmen, aldermen, and city councilors.

In a statement about the House bill, Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said it “reflects a commitment to legalizing adult-use marijuana while upholding our duty to ensure safety and effective management.”

“In addition to the rigorous product testing and security measures, I believe that the independence of the Cannabis Control Commission will allow this new industry to be implemented in a safe and efficient manner,” he said.

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In many sections, the House bill includes either deviations or completely new language from the original ballot measure. Most was written behind closed doors. The process has enraged legalization advocates, who blasted the new bill.

“The House tonight repealed and replaced the historic measure enacted by Massachusetts residents last November,” Jim Borghesani, of the Yes on 4 Coalition, said ina statement. “They did it with virtually no public discussion or debate. Their bill is wrong on taxes, wrong on local control, weak on social justice and irresponsible on regulatory efficiency.”

He called the measure “a far cry from what voters overwhelmingly approved last year.”

Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Middlesex), a vocal legalization supporter, said in a statement after the vote: “I just voted ‘No’ on the House marijuana bill. Overall, it strays too far from the provisions of last year’s ballot question. My expectation is that the Senate will soon adopt a better version of this legislation, and I hope the final law will be more reflective of the Senate version.”

At a “Kill The Bill” rally Wednesday on the steps of the State House, longtime activist and Question 4 co-author Bill Downing echoed that statement. The Senate bill isn’t perfect, he said, but it’s by far closer to the ballot measure than the House version.

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“We’re told by our legislators almost universally that ‘Question 4 was poorly written,’” he said, addressing the crowd. “They said ‘Question 4 was written by the cannabis industry.’ It was not. It was written by me … and a bunch of other people who all worked really hard to make a very fine piece of legislation, and it would have worked beautifully if it hadn’t been messed with.”

“After their claims of having written legislation so poorly,” he added, “to see this House bill come out the way it is written is truly shocking. I doubt that the leaders of the House even understand the language in this bill.”

The House bill is actually a revised version of a previous House draft that, when introduced, drew so much blowback from advocates and officials it was eventually pulled by Speaker DeLeo. In spite of the revisions, the version the House passed last night stirred up rancor and disappointment among critics.

Peter Bernard, of the Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council, voiced outrage at the proposed changes during the morning rally. Beyond railing against the “incredibly ridiculous 28% tax they want to levy” on adult-use cannabis, he blasted the bill’s proposed 6.25% tax on medical marijuana.

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“Since when do we tax medicine in the Commonwealth?” he asked, predicting that the proposed tax rates on medical and adult-use cannabis would drive both patients and consumers back to the illegal market.

But the most important element of Question 4 to protect, Bernard said, is homegrow. “Both the Senate and the House bills look like they don’t mess with it, but the House bill that we have to kill does,” he explained. “Keeping them from messing with this is something we worked on pretty hard this year.” Bernard said he even took several lawmakers to different home-grow locations to educate them on the matter.

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, a legal cannabis supporter and current candidate for mayor, was also at Wednesday’s rally, where he was particularly concerned with language asserting the state could deny business licenses to applicants who have “affiliates or close associates that would not qualify for a license.”

Jackson likened the language to McCarthyism.

“That provision is not even in the language in the state of Massachusetts for alcohol,” he said. “So for them to actually add that over and above is again going to put us in a position where we will not have diversity.”

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Jackson pointed to state statistics as proof that the state’s cannabis laws historically have led to racist outcomes. “We’re a state where, from 2006 to 2016, if you were a black guy, you had a 330% increased chance of getting arrested for possession of cannabis—which was legal at the time—and a 500% increased chance of arrest for distribution.”

The voter-approved ballot question was written to help address that and other social justice issues, such as the expungement of cannabis convictions. “We now,” said Jackson, “have a Legislature who is trying to undercut that.”

Indeed, lawmakers sought to remove a so-called equity provision designed to address racial injustice, but later Wednesdday dropped the effort in the face of pushback from minority caucuses and speakers such as Jackson.

The full text of the bill, H 3768, is available online. At the time of publication, the Senate was still debating proposed amendments to its version of the bill.

Here is the outcome of Wednesday night’s vote:

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Massachusetts Whiplash: Cannabis Tax Pulled Back to 12%

BOSTON (AP) — The debate over Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana law took a new twist on Friday with the release of a plan that would not raise taxes on cannabis and would leave decisions on whether to ban retail marijuana stores in the hands of local voters.

The proposal, unveiled in summary form by Sen. Patricia Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat, is in sharp contrast to a House bill that calls for increasing taxes on recreational marijuana from a maximum rate of 12% to a fixed 28% rate, and gives local governing bodies — such as city councils and select boards — the authority to keep pot shops out of their communities without first holding a referendum.

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Jehlen is the Senate chair of the Marijuana Policy Committee, which spent several months considering revisions to the voter-approved law that legalized possession and use of recreational marijuana by adults. Senate members of the committee largely rejected the House version of the bill after it was released this week, with Jehlen calling it an assault on the will of the 1.8 million voters who approved the November ballot question.

“A high tax rate is not the will of the voters,” she said Friday in an interview after releasing the outline of the Senate bill.

Critics contend that higher taxes will discourage people from purchasing the drug legally, thereby keeping illegal dealers in business.

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“You want to start low enough to make the legal market catch hold,” said Jehlen, who did not rule out raising taxes in the future.

Supporters of higher taxes argue the revenue will be needed to pay for regulating adult-use cannabis. The House bill also earmarks some of the proceeds from pot taxes for substance abuse treatment programs.

Even at 28%, the retail tax would be lower than in Washington and much of Colorado, states that had previously legalized recreational marijuana.

Democratic House leaders had originally planned to vote this week on their version of the bill, but put off debate in order to make technical corrections and address other concerns raised by members. A vote has now been set for Wednesday.

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Jehlen said she expected the Senate proposal to be taken up within 10 days, setting the stage for negotiations on a final version of the bill.

The two chambers did appear to agree on several points, including a restructuring of the regulatory board that will oversee recreational marijuana, and removing a provision in the current law that gives existing medical marijuana operators a leg up in securing licenses for recreational sales.

Yes on 4, the group that sponsored the ballot measure, said it was encouraged by the approach senators were taking.

“On taxes, local control and social justice, the Senate gets it right,” spokesman Jim Borghesani said in a statement. “The House bill, even with its most egregious flaws addressed, adopts a hostile approach that would not serve any system of commerce well, much less the fledgling legal marijuana market.”

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Proposed Changes to Massachusetts Marijuana Law “Insults Voters”

A supporter holds up a “Yes on 4” sign at the 2016 Boston Freedom Rally (Scott Gacek/The Daily Chronic)

BOSTON, MA — The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy has voted to advance a bill to repeal and replace the marijuana legalization measure approved by voters in November, angering supporters who are calling the proposal an “insult to voters.”

According to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who carefully crafted the language of the voter-approved Question 4, the proposal approved by Beacon Hill lawmakers this week “bears very little resemblance to the legalization law passed by 1.8 million voters in November.”

“The bill would undermine efforts to replace the unregulated market with a system of licensed businesses,” says Will Luzier, MPP’s campaign manager for Question 4. “It would take away the right of voters to decide on local marijuana policy, and it could impose a tax rate on marijuana that exceeds 50%. It authorizes the sharing of information with the FBI on cannabis commerce, including employees and medical patients. It also makes the Cannabis Control Commission — the entity that will regulate marijuana businesses — less unaccountable.”

The proposed changes to Question 4, which was approved by 54 percent of voters last November, could be voted on by the full House as early as Thursday.

This is not the first change to the marijuana legalization law.  As written, Question 4 called for regulated marijuana sales to start in January 2018.  Last December, in a sparsely attended special session, lawmakers quickly and quietly passed a bill that delayed marijuana sales until July 2018.

Increased Taxes

Among the most notable changes proposed by lawmakers is a massive increase in taxes on recreational marijuana sales, more than doubling the maximum tax imposed on retail cannabis sales.

The language of Question 4 imposes an excise tax of 3.75% in addition to the state sales tax of 6.25%, adding a total 10% sales tax at the point of sale. Local communities have the option to add an additional 2% sales tax, making the total possible tax 12%.

The proposed changes to the law call for a much higher excise tax of 16.75%, in addition to the 6.25% sales tax, making the total minimum tax statewide 23%.  Cities and towns could then tack up to 5% more in local taxes, bringing the total possible maximum tax to 28%, more than double the rate approved by voters.

Medical marijuana sales would remain tax-free.

“The House proposal in no way improves the measure passed by voters. It weakens it and it insults voters in the process,” Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the Yes on 4 campaign, said in a statement. “Its irrational tax increase will give drug dealers the ability to undercut the legal market, and its removal of ban authority from local voters will give a handful of selectmen the ability to overrule the opinion of their own constituents.”

Rep. Mark Cusack (D-Braintree) is co-chair of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, the committee who wrote the proposed legislation behind closed doors, largely in secret.  Cusack touted the proposed changes to the bill as necessary, claiming the will of Bay State voters has not been compromised.

“The voters voted to allow people 21 years of age and above to be able to access a regulated and safe marketplace. That is exactly what this bill does,”Cusack told the Boston Globe. “The ballot question is fundamentally flawed.’’

Cusack says the higher tax rate is “a responsible tax rate” and is necessary to fund regulation while generating additional income for the state.

But not all lawmakers are on board with the legislature’s re-write of the citizen initiated referendum, including Cusack’s co-chair for in the joint committee, Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville).

“This proposed bill directly assaults the will of the voters,” Sen. Jehlen told the Boston Herald, noting that the proposed 28% would be among the highest tax rates in the eight states that have legalized retail marijuana sales.

“If you keep more people in the illicit market, you’re not getting their taxes,” she told CBS News. “Second, if you raise the tax too high, you keep people in the illicit market.”

Also prominent among the many changes to the marijuana law is transferring the authority to restrict or ban cannabis related businesses.  As approved by voters, the current marijuana law requires municipal officials who want to ban or restrict marijuana related businesses from operating in their communities to get final approval from voters via a referendum.

The proposed changes to the marijuana law strip that final say from voters, giving local lawmakers unilateral authority to ban or limit dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and other marijuana related businesses operating in their communities.

“The removal of ban authority from local voters will give a handful of selectmen the ability to overrule the opinion of their own constituents,” says Borghesani.  “We think that will be problematic and could usher in a new era of prohibition.”

“The public has always been ahead of legislators on this issue, in Massachusetts and every other state. To turn around and alter something the public passed and take power away from voters, and give it to elected officials who have not been leaders and have shown a reluctance to embrace new marijuana public policy is a big mistake and a dramatic revision of the bill passed by voters,” Borghesani added.

Home Cultivation

While home cultivation of up to 12 plants per household remains in the proposed law, advocates are concerned that the law opens the door for the Cannabis Control Commission, the agency created to oversee the state’s marijuana industry, to reduce the plant limit or impose restrictions and regulations on home grows.

According to the proposed changes to the law, the commission would be allowed to “establish rules and regulations on the unlicensed manufacture of marijuana or marijuana products within a person’s primary residence.”

Advocates fear the language could allow regulators to require expensive home cultivation licences, home grow site inspections, or reduced plant limits.

Changes to Oversight

The third major change to the law involves the Cannabis Control Commission, the governing agency established by Question 4 to regulate the marijuana industry in Massachusetts.  Under current law, the state treasurer has the sole authority to hire and fire the three members of the Commission.

But under the proposed changes to the law, the Commission would be expanded to five people, and give the treasurer, Governor and Attorney General each the ability to appoint one member to the Commission. The other two seats would be filled by a majority vote of the thee appointed members.

The Commission would still be a part of the treasurer’s office, and they do not appear to support the proposed changes.

“While we are still reviewing all the details of the bill, it is apparent that this structure does not provide operational authority or accountability within the treasurer’s office, which we believe is critical to have a safe, secure, and efficient implementation,” Chandra Allard, a spokesperson for state treasurer Deborah Goldberg, told the Boston Globe.

Medical Marijuana

While most of the outcry regarding the proposed changes to the marijuana law come from supporters of recreational marijuana, medical marijuana advocates are concerned with a provision in the proposed bill that strips oversight of the state’s medical marijuana program from the Department of Public Health and reassigns it to the Cannabis Control Commission, placing all of the state’s marijuana oversight — both medical and recreational — under one governing body.

While this consolidation could be helpful in reducing bureaucratic oversight, advocates fear that could place the state’s medical marijuana program at risk in the current political climate.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but while the Obama Administration mostly looked the other way, the Trump Administration’s Justice Department, under the leadership of longtime marijuana foe Attorney General Jeff Sessions, appears to be leaning towards a federal crackdown of recreational, and possibly medical, marijuana sales.

House Expected to Vote Thursday

The bill is expected to be introduced to the House on Thursday. While the bill advanced out of committee by a 10-1 vote, some committee members say their support for the bill, as written, ends there.

“With deep reservations I will be supporting this out of committee but I will not at all hesitate to vote no on the floor … if this bill continues in the shape and form as it is,” Rep. Aaron Vega (D-Boston) told the Boston Herald.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, the Marijuana Policy Project is asking you to please call your state representative and tell them not to vote for this bill when it is presented for a vote.  You can do so by clicking here.

“We must not allow politicians to repeal and replace the will of the people, especially when their proposed changes are so flawed and misguided,” they say.


Update: The Salem News is reporting that legislative leaders have decided to postpone a vote until next week.

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Massachusetts Bill Would Double Cannabis Tax, Globe Reports

House leaders in Massachusetts are expected to unveil a bill Wednesday that will double the existing tax rate on adult-use cannabis.

As first reported by the Boston Globe, members of the House are trying to revise the state’s voter-passed legalization law to set the total tax on adult-use cannabis at 28%. The bill would also give municipal officials the power to ban cannabis shops and farms, rather than leaving that decision in the hands of local voters.

This legislation marks an extreme break with Massachusetts voters. Last November’s Question 4 ballot initiative, which legalized recreational marijuana, garnered nearly 54% of the vote. Question 4 set the tax rate at 12%.

The proposed legislation would also consolidate the oversight of Massachusetts’ medical and recreational cannabis programs into one agency. It would also impose stricter restrictions on cannabis edibles, along with limitations on cannabis advertising.

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Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg would be stripped of her cannabis oversight authority, according to an outline of the legislation and subsequent interview with the bill’s author, Rep. Mark J. Cusack (D) of Braintree, by the Boston Globe.

According to Cusack, the bill respects the will of the voters while looking after the public safety and health of the state.

“The voters voted to allow people 21 years of age and above to be able to access a regulated and safe marketplace. That is exactly what this bill does,” he told the Boston Globe. “The ballot question is fundamentally flawed. It needs to be improved, and that’s what this committee’s charge has been — to work through the different issues and come up with the best system possible for the consumer and the Commonwealth.”

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The original voter-passed initiative called for a total of 12% taxes on cannabis, which was made up of a  3.75% state tax, a 2% local option tax on cannabis sales, and the state’s existing 6.25% retail sales tax.

Under the House bill that is expected to be put to a vote on Thursday, the total tax would be set at 28%, with a 6.25% sales tax, 16.75% state cannabis tax, and a mandatory 5% local tax that would go to city and town coffers.

The bill will likely get passed in some version on Thursday, before moving to the Senate. If the Senate passes its own version of the legislation, the differences would be hashed out in a joint House-Senate conference committee.

Legislators hope to send the final product to Gov. Charlie Baker by the end of the month.

The House bill would not change the rules regarding home grows, or the amount of legal cannabis a person may legally possess.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Massachusetts Tobacco Wholesalers Want a Piece of the Cannabis Pie

The tobacco industry in Massachusetts is trying to get a piece of what’s expected to be a lucrative state  cannabis market, with cigarette wholesalers now lobbying state officials to get in on the action.

The tobacco wholesalers want to transfer to the cannabis industry a system they already use to track, deliver, and tax all cigarettes sold in Massachusetts. They’re reportedly asking state officials to require that cannabis producers to sell all their products through them—much like how alcohol goes through a wholesaler on its way to bars and retail stores.

“Rather than reinvent the wheel, let’s use the most successful, proven encrypted tax stamp program we have: the one assigned to cigarettes,” Paul Caron, a former state legislator who now serves as executive director of tobacco trade group the Northeast Association of Wholesale Distributors, told the Boston Globe.

“My members are willing to collect all the taxes on behalf of the state and stamp any marijuana product being distributed for sale,” he said.

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This idea has drawn criticism, however, including from some cannabis legalization advocates. Jim Borghesani, the communications director for the Yes on 4 coalition that led the adult-use cannabis ballot effort, worries the structure could end up raising the retail price of cannabis.“The last thing this state needs is another three-tiered commerce system that gouges consumers and enriches middlemen,” Borghesani said.

Borghesani added that marijuana-specific distribution systems in other states work effectively enough that Massachusetts lacks a good reason to grant a monopoly to a group of tobacco wholesalers.

Other opponents have accused tobacco wholesalers of trying to replicate the alcohol industry’s fairly controversial distribution scheme, which locks retailers into long-term business relationships with wholesalers.

The group of tobacco wholesalers, the Globe reports, made its pitch to both Massachusetts legislators and state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who will oversee the new Cannabis Control Commission under the current set of laws.

It’s certainly not the first time companies in other so-called vice industries have taken a stance on the cannabis market. During election season last year, the company behind Sam Adams beer stated in an SEC filing that cannabis legalization in Massachusetts could cause alcohol sales to slide.

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In Nevada, no stranger vice industries, cannabis was initially required to be distributed by alcohol wholesalers when voters passed a legalization measure in November. When the Nevada Tax Commission adopted temporary rules allowing other entities to become licensed distributors, alcohol wholesalers sued. Late last month, a state judge granted their request to freeze the rollout of adult-use cannabis—a move that could delay the state’s planned July 1 launch of its adult-use cannabis market.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

State of the Leaf: Sacramento Sees 500% Drop in Cannabis Arrests

US News

Arkansas

It’s regulation by legislation in Arkansas as lawmakers cobble together the rules that will govern the state’s nascent medical cannabis program. There is a ton of new laws. Literally dozens of them.

“They did some crazy things, but it wasn’t anything that would affect the overall stability or the overall ability to get medicine, marijuana to the patients,” said David Couch, who led the campaign for the November ballot measure that legalized medical cannabis in the state.

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California

Cannabis arrests in the state capital of Sacramento are down a whopping 500% since state voters passed Proposition 64, to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state.

And just in time for Earth Day weekend, US Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) made an environmentally minded pitch for ending prohibition.

District of Columbia

On 4/20, several high-profile DC cannabis advocates were arrested while carrying out an act of civil disobedience on Capitol Hill. Their motive was to highlight a soon-to-expire recurring budget amendment that protects legal medical cannabis operations from unwanted federal intrusion. It was a gutsy gesture that attracted heaps of media attention but not universal praise.

“I don’t think it is the best way forward,” cannabis stalwart US Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told US News. “We’re going to have many advocates and business people on Capitol Hill making the case in a calm, thoughtful, rational basis.”

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Florida

In November, Sunshine State voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2 to legalize medical cannabis. Since then, Florida’s largest newspaper Tampa Bay Times has dropped a series of editorials skewering Tallahassee lawmakers for getting it all wrong—on, well, basically everything. The Times’ latest, a blistering admonition from Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Ruth, is the most derisive yet.

“Last year, Floridians approved by 71.3 percent an amendment that broadly legalizes the use of medical marijuana. That was huge. You’d have a hard time getting 71.3 percent of the state to agree on the color of an orange. Then it was left to the Legislature to craft the rules for implementing the amendment. That’s the way the system is supposed to work. It’s called democracy and it’s all the rage, except in Florida.”

You can almost hear the mic drop.

Massachusetts

Voters in Massachusetts ended prohibition last November after passing Question 4 at the polls. Since mid-December, it has been legal to grow and possess cannabis. Since then, we’ve watched a turf war play out over who has final regulatory authority over Massachusetts’s adult recreational market.

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New Hampshire

Mixed results on a mostly GOP-led effort to expand New Hampshire’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis: Chronic pain legislation, HB 157, passed the Senate and is expected to become law. But a similar, separate measure that would have included PTSD as a qualifying condition, HB 160, failed to clear the Senate hurdle and was sent back to the drawing board on committee.

New Jersey

Gov. Chris Christie is literally the most unpopular governor in America, and his notoriously anti-cannabis policies are partly to blame. But for cannabis advocates, there is light at the end of the tunnel: He’ll be gone in less than nine months, at which point NJ’s cannabis landscape should transform swiftly and dramatically.

Phil Murphy, a Democrat and former ambassador to Germany, is the odds-on favorite to replace Christie. His approach would be a dramatic departure from his predecessor’s.

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“By carefully watching what other states have already done, we can ensure a legalization and taxation program that learns from their experiences and which will work from the outset,” Murphy told Leafly. “This also is about social justice, and ending a failed prohibition that has served mainly to put countless people—predominantly young men of color—behind bars and behind a huge roadblock to their futures. New Jersey should choose to be a leader.”

Pennsylvania

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, the state’s chief fiscal officer, joined hundreds of cannabis advocates in Harrisburg to make the fiscal case for ending prohibition.

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“The state’s now looking for revenues and also looking to where they can save money,” DePasquale said, adding that “the most failed war in the history of the United States is the war of drugs, specifically when it comes to marijuana.”

Activists were thrilled to have backup.

“It was an unexpected surprise when Auditor General DePasquale added his voice to the call for legalization via a ‘tax and regulate’ model,” Pittsburg NORML’s Patrick Nightingale told Leafly. “PA is facing a huge budget deficit, projected by some to be as high as $3 billion. Mr. DePasquale knows we must find additional sources of funding, and he pointed out the most obvious source of potential revenue: cannabis. My only criticism is that I think he projected revenue is far too low, especially when the $200 million to $300 million PA spends annually on marijuana-related law enforcement, courts, and corrections is factored in.”

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South Dakota

Legalization advocates in South Dakota hope the third time’s a charm as they again circulate petitions to put cannabis reform on next year’s ballot. One ballot measure would legalize medical cannabis, while another would OK adult use. Advocates have until November to gather the requisite signatures—17,000 each—to qualify for the November 2018 election.

” We’re embracing this showdown,” advocate Melissa Mentele told Leafly. “When we get these measures on the ballot, that sets up an intriguing showdown with our notoriously anti-cannabis Attorney General Marty Jackley, who already announced his campaign for governor in 2018.

“The prospect of a showdown with South Dakota’s most notorious anti-cannabis villain,” she added, “makes my heart go pitter pat.”

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Utah

A surgeon in Utah refused to perform a life-saving double-lung transplant on 20-year-old Ryan Hancey because he had THC metabolites in his blood.

“We do not transplant organs in patients with active alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drug use or dependencies until these issues are addressed,” Utah Health System explained in a written statement. Despite a frantic last-minute crowd-sourced effort to fly him to Philadelphia’s Penn Hospital for his transplant, Hancey died over the weekend.

West Virginia

Just in time for 4/20, West Virginia became the 29th state to adopt medical cannabis legislation. “This legislation is going to benefit countless West Virginia patients and families for years to come,” said MPP’s Matt Simon.

That’s common refrain in WV, where advocates are upbeat after such a heady win. And it’s definitely a huge step forward. But this glass is also half-empty. No homegrown, no smokable flowers, no out-of-state reciprocity. Nothing before mid-2019 at the earliest. And with this flawed legislation now officially on the books, many activists fear politicians will think their work on the issue is done.

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“This was done without much outside help,” Reverend John Wires told Leafly. He’s one of several unpaid lobbyists who, with nothing more than “gas money and shoe leather” helped make medical marijuana a reality in West Virginia.

“Imagine what we could have accomplished if we had the financial backing that has been thrown into other states,” he said. “It was the calls from the public that brought us over the top. All those in office know West Virginia citizens vote with their temper.”

International

Canada

Medical cannabis and job-related drug testing—it’s a common dilemma anywhere that medicinal cannabis is legal. Including Canada.

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“There’s nothing wrong in saying you can’t be stoned at work,” said Canadian employment lawyer Peter Straszynski.

But is there something wrong with discriminating against legal medical patients who medicate responsibly?

France

Four of the top-five finishers in the first round of France’s presidential election support decriminalizing cannabis, including Emmanuel Macron who finished first. The only opponent is Marine Le Pen, who finished second. Macron and Le Pen will face off May 8 to determine France’s next head of state.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

The Best Things to Do on the East Coast for 4/20

For the first time ever, the East Coast will be getting a piece of the 4/20 action, having legalized cannabis for adult use in Maine and Massachusetts during the last election. Between those two states, plus a few other states legalizing MMJ along the Eastern Seaboard, things are finally looking up for the East Coast!

April 21-22: World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo (Pittsburgh, PA)

The World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo is an exclusive event featuring the leading medical marijuana educators, businesses, and professionals from around the globe. This event will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from April 21 to April 22. For those who purchase VIP tickets, you will be privy to red carpet treatment, a meet-and-greet with former-NFL-player-turned-cannabis-activist Ricky Williams.

The convention will be filled with panels, seminars, discussions, networking events, and business opportunities for those who are curious about the medical cannabis market.

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April 21-23: Sweetwater 420 Festival (Atlanta, GA)

The Sweetwater 420 Festival might be one of the biggest 4/20 celebrations on the East Coast and it’s happening in the most unexpected place. In the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, over the course of three days, there will be over 40 bands performing on four different stages for live music. The festival will be held in Centennial Olympic Park with three days of environmental awareness, awesome bands from around the country, SweetWater brewing company providing their brews, tons of vendors and delicious food. Get your tickets ahead of time!

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April 22-23: 2017 New England Cannabis Convention (Boston, MA)

The New England Cannabis Convention is certain to be a game-changing event for the East Coast. With 200 local and national exhibitors, more than 100 industry expert speakers, advice on careers, investing, medical marijuana education, and live demos for those who have a vested interest in joining the newly legal cannabis market, this will be the must-attend event of the year.

Held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston from April 22 through April 23, you can go for one day, all days, or even just specific events. Buy your tickets now!


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

State of the Leaf: Texas Decriminalization Measure Moves Ahead, MMJ Stalls in SC

Florida

There’s a lot going on in Tallahassee as Sunshine State legislators forge the regulatory framework for Florida’s medical marijuana program.

Senators appear poised to advance legislation (SB 406) to welcome five new cannabis dispensaries to Florida by October. At least one would be minority-owned. Friday’s measure also requires four additional dispensaries within “six months after each instance of the registration of 75,000 qualifying patients with the compassionate use registry.”

That 75,000 figure is dramatically less than the previous threshold of 250,000.

The House is currently considering a slightly stricter measure.

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Maryland

Add Maryland to the growing list of states considering using cannabis as a tool to combat opioid addition. An amendment to add “opiate use disorder” to the list of qualifying conditions was introduced last week in Annapolis. It didn’t last long, though. By Monday, that measure had been stripped from the bill.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore), said that insisting on the opioid bit would have risked the whole package.

“Like they say, the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze,” she told local media.

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“Reefer madness propaganda unfortunately lingers on,” MPP’s Kate Bell told Leafly. “It’s important to keep in mind that, unlike potentially deadly opiates, there are no recorded deaths due to overdose on cannabis.”

Massachusetts

Bay State lawmakers are poised to rework the state’s adult-use cannabis regulations. For starters, lawmakers would strip the state treasurer of regulatory authority in favor of an “independent oversight commission” in an effort to protect adult-use cannabis from the whims of a solitary elected official.

Reaction from advocates was mixed. Proponents argue the change is necessary to curb any undue influence the industry might have over regulators. Others fretted that switching gears now would cause delays.

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Meanwhile, medical cannabis delivery options became available to patients in Massachusetts this week. But the news comes with a caveat: Delivery costs extra, putting this new service out of reach for many who need it most, such as low-income, homebound patients.

“Massachusetts finally having a dispensary offering a delivery service to the entire state is absolutely a step in the right direction,” Bay State advocate Ellen Brown told Leafly. “But Massachusetts still has a very long way to go to provide all of our patients with safe and affordable access. Only one dispensary is offering a delivery service to the entire state, and it is nowhere near enough to fully take care of all the 34,392 active patients that we have.”

Minnesota

Could the sponsor of Minnesota’s adult-use cannabis referendum become the state’s next governor? Democratic Rep. Tina Liebling, a 12-year House veteran, is one of five Democrats seeking to replace Minnesota’s term-limited Gov. Mark Dayton, whose term ends in January 2019.

“The war on drugs has failed—costing Minnesota taxpayers too much and destroying too many lives,” Liebling’s campaign website says. “It’s time to remove the prohibition on personal use of cannabis. Minnesotans should have the opportunity to decide whether to legalize personal use of cannabis under a careful system of regulation and taxation. Law enforcement should have a voice on drug policy, but never a veto.”

Whether she wins or not, Liebling’s presence in this race ensures that cannabis reform will figure prominently in the campaign debate.

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North Dakota

In November, North Dakota voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure legalizing medical cannabis. Lawmakers have modified their original (awful) regulations but cannabis reformers are (still) unimpressed. According to local media “A big sticking point is restrictions on smoking marijuana as medicine.”

Advocates are threatening another citizen referendum if lawmakers don’t get their act together.

Ohio

Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is unconvinced that Ohio’s newly passed medical marijuana law would put a dent in his state’s appetite for opioids like heroin or Oxycontin.

“I know it’s not recreational marijuana, not recreational use, but I don’t see a role for it in this at all,” Kasich said.” That’s despite evidence showing opioid use drops 25% on average in states with medical cannabis programs.

Kasich signed medical marijuana legislation last June, making Ohio the 25th state to permit medical cannabis.

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South Carolina

The chances you’ll see medical cannabis made legal in South Carolina this legislative session? Slim to none. While both parties deserve blame for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the chief antagonist was Republican House Speaker Jay Lucas, whose personal lobbying efforts reportedly kept the bill bottled up in committee.

Thing were only slightly better in the upper house.

“The Senate hearing was a bit frustrating,” MPP’s Becky Dansky told Leafly. “The other side was allowed several more witnesses whose testimony was based on misinformation and at time flat out lies. They used dated quotes from medical organizations that have since changed their positions and other unscrupulous tactics.”

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Texas

A bill to decriminalize cannabis in the Lone Star State cleared an early hurdle in the Texas legislature on Monday. Still a long way to go, but early GOP support is a good sign.

Meanwhile in El Paso, democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke has made ending the war on drugs a central theme in his longshot bid to defeat US Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican incumbent.

Coincidently, both the state of Texas and the National Football League have notoriously strict marijuana policies which disproportionately affect black people.

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Enter Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a bona fide Texas icon. With three Super Bowl titles to his credit, Jones usually gets what he wants. That’s why mere reports he suggested that the NFL revisit its marijuana policy are such a big deal. Jones’ influence extends well beyond the NFL. His ability to bend Texas policymakers to his will is the stuff of legend.

“Just as changes in public policy lend to cultural changes, shifts in our culture can trigger shifts in public policy,” Marijuana Policy Project’s Mason Tvert told Leafly. “Hopefully this report about Jerry Johnson’s position on the NFL’s needlessly punitive marijuana policy will lead to some Cowboy fans in the Legislature rethinking their positions on Texas’s needlessly punitive marijuana laws.”

West Virginia

With editorial boards urging “a compassionate vote,” the West Virginia House of Delegates finally passed a long-languishing medical cannabis bill. A similar bill previously sailed through the Senate.

Medical cannabis legislation had flat-lined several times in Charleston this year, mostly on account of resistance from House Speaker Tim Armstead. In the end, legislators were unable to withstand the grassroots backlash to all that legislative foot-dragging.

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“My phone has been blowing up and I know that everybody else’s phones have been blowing up,” Del. Mike Caputo (D-Marion) told local media.

The legislation includes a fairly robust list of qualifying health conditions. Unsurprisingly, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Lou Gehrig’s disease were included alongside Parkinson’s disease and seizure disorders. Anemia and PTSD were also included, among others.

The current bill does not contain a home-grow provision. Medical cannabis would be permitted by pill, oil, tincture, liquid, or dermal patch—but no smokable flower.

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International News

Canada

Ending prohibition would diminish alcohol sales in Canada, according to a recent study by the accounting firm Deloitte.

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Israel

Israel pioneered medical cannabis research and that’s led to a “green rush.” How green? Try $100 million green—with boundless research opportunities to boot. And that’s just for starters.

Read all about it booming here.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.