The Cannabis Control Commission is bracing for a “Green Rush” of applicants today vying to be among the first to open marijuana retail stores as Massachusetts becomes the new frontier for recreational pot on the East Coast.
Massachusetts Marijuana News and Politics
Markey, Edward J. - (D - MA)
255 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Warren, Elizabeth - (D - MA)
317 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Marijuana Policy Project on Massachusetts:
Last update: September 21, 2015
Although possession of under an ounce of marijuana is punishable by a civil fine of $100 in Massachusetts, pursuant to an initiative campaign led by MPP in 2008, the prohibition of marijuana has plenty of opportunity costs. Time spent enforcing marijuana laws could better be used to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of serious and violent crime. According to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, in 2012, the clearance rate for murder in Massachusetts was 47.9%; for rape and burglary, the clearance rates were 24.9% and 10.2%, respectively.
Additionally, new evidence suggests that Massachusetts’ marijuana laws are not being evenly enforced. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Massachusetts are 3.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Massachusetts will consider taxing and regulating marijuana
One way or another, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will seriously consider ending marijuana prohibition in 2015 or 2016.
In March 2015, Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Belmont) and Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) introduced H.1561, a bill that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for legal use by adults. A bipartisan group of 13 co-sponsors has signed on in support. Unfortunately, Gov. Charlie Baker has said he will “vigorously” oppose legalization.
In November 2014, voters in 14 districts set the stage for meaningful reform when they approved non-binding ballot questions indicating support for making marijuana legal. The legislature will have an opportunity to heed the call of voters in 2015, but it is likely they will fail to act. In that case, MPP has announced that it plans to support a ballot initiative — led by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts — that will give Bay Staters an opportunity to end prohibition themselves in the November 2016 election.
Fifteen dispensaries approved; one finally opens in June 2015
On November 6, 2012, 63% of Bay State voters approved Question 3, making their state the 18th to enact a compassionate medical marijuana program. More than two years later — long after deadlines had passed — the Department of Public Health allowed the first dispensary to begin cultivating on December 31, 2014. Since then, three additional dispensaries have been approved to begin cultivation, and the first dispensary opened in Salem on June 24, 2015.
Question 3 called for up to 35 dispensaries, but only 15 dispensary applicants were selected by the department in 2014. In June 2015, the department announced that it would scrap its controversial scoring system for applicants and that it would instead begin considering applications on a rolling basis.
Meanwhile, patients have been able to apply for ID cards since October 2014. The registration is mandatory: Unregistered patients are no longer afforded any protection from being arrested.
You can read our summary of Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law here.
From 24/7 Wall Street:
Though the state’s marijuana policy is relatively progressive, it appears that decriminalization has not gone far enough for the majority of voters. In a poll released last year by the Boston Herald, 53% of state residents were in favor of legalizing marijuana, while only 37% were against. Proponents of legalization may have a chance to change the state law again in November 2016. Democratic State Representative Dave Rogers and Democratic State Senator Patricia Jehlen introduced a bill to to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults.
Massachusetts Cannabis News