Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law was implemented over a year ago, and now the state has granted its first 20 dispensary licenses. The Department of Public Heath received 100 applications and judged them based on proposed location and the ability of the dispensary to ensure public safety while simultaneously meeting the needs of its patients.
The law allows for 35 dispensary licenses; however, only 20 have been granted so far. More competition will mean lower prices for patients, so, the sooner the last 15 licenses are granted, the better.
Building on steadily increasing public support, a coalition of marijuana policy reformers are looking to 2016 to get an initiative on the Massachusetts ballot to make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol.
MPP was largely responsible for the successful 2008 campaign to remove the threat of arrest for possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state. Now, national and local advocates are preparing to end marijuana prohibition in the Bay State:
Outside groups are already pledging support – strategic and financial – to push for legalization in Massachusetts.
The Marijuana Policy Project, a national nonprofit that says it spent about $2 million on the successful 2012 campaign for legalization in Colorado, also plans to spend money in this state.
“We intend to support an initiative in Massachusetts in 2016 that would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol,” said spokesman Mason Tvert.
Bill Downing, treasurer of Bay State Repeal, a group created to get the legalization question on the ballot, said he expects other national groups to back the effort here.
The Boston Herald reported today that lawmakers in New England have been emboldened by the 2012 victories in Colorado and Washington. Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts are addressing the prospect of taxation and regulation of marijuana. Vermont is considering decriminalization, and New Hampshire is pushing to legalize medical marijuana.
While the reform discussion isn’t entirely new in the northeast – Rep. Ellen Story (D-MA) has submitted multiple bills in the past – MPP is optimistic about present and future measures in the region and is lending its support. MPP’s communications manager, Morgan Fox, told the Herald, “We’ve just won the first two victories in what’ll be a long road. The wind’s at our back now.”
This past year was undeniably the most productive 365-day period in the history of the marijuana policy reform movement. There were a number of significant accomplishments, but here is the Marijuana Policy Project’s list of the “Top 10 Marijuana Victories of 2012.” As with our previous annual lists, it includes neither important scientific developments nor important international developments. Rather, this list focuses on the biggest marijuana-related policy accomplishments in the U.S. in the last year.
To read the full list, please visit The Huffington Post.
The law overwhelmingly passed by Massachusetts voters in November officially went into effect on January 1, joining 17 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing the seriously ill to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. Nearly a third of the U.S. population can now access medical marijuana if they have a qualifying condition!
While the people of Massachusetts are generally quite pleased about this, local governments are trying to delay implementation of the new law until the Department of Public Health can establish regulations to govern the program.
Apparently, local leaders would rather continue to arrest the seriously ill than wait four months for guidance from the state.