Tax and Regulate

Mass.: Public hearing TOMORROW on vape ban!

If you have been negatively affected by the ban, please testify in person or submit written testimony.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is holding a public hearing tomorrow on the vape ban, and your opinion matters. Testing has shown that tainted vape products are being sold by underground sources, so it is critical for regulators to understand the need for regulated products that have been tested and shown to be free of contaminants.

If you have been negatively affected by the ban, this is a great opportunity to share your perspective with policymakers in person or in writing. Here are the details:

WHAT: Public hearing on regulation of vaping products

WHERE: Public Health Council Room, second floor of the Department of Public Health Building, 250 Washington Street, Boston

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To submit written testimony, which will accepted until 5 p.m., send email to Reg.Testimony@state.ma.us. “Vaping products regulation” should be in the subject line, and department officials ask that all submissions include the sender’s full name and address.

In other news, it has now been one full year since the advent of retail sales to adults. As the Boston Globe has reportedthere are now 33 stores open, and the state has logged $393.7 million in sales, suggesting that the program — despite its slow start — has produced nearly $67 million in state revenue and up to $11.8 in revenue for municipalities.

Please share this important news with your family and friends!

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Prohibition||Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Bill Introduced That Protects Legal Marijuana Businesses

In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind Obama-era guidance that protected legal marijuana businesses, legislators in Massachusetts have introduced a bill that would prohibit state and local police from participating in federal cases against people or licensed operators who follow state marijuana laws. The bill also serves as a response to the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, who declined to ensure that that his office would uphold the will of Massachusetts voters, calling marijuana a “dangerous drug” and refusing to limit potential prosecutions to illicit dealers.

The State Police and the Boston and Worcester Police Departments have indicated that they will not participate in federal interdiction, but other smaller departments may still be tempted by the prospect of receiving unencumbered funds from civil asset forfeitures. This legislation, if passed, will make it much more difficult for federal agents to disrupt state-legal commerce. Representatives Dave Rogers and Mike Connolly introduced the bill, calling it the “Refusal of Complicity Act.” According to Rep. Rogers, “We have a state law, it’s valid, and we think it should be respected. If federal law enforcement has something different in mind, they can use their own resources, because Massachusetts taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay to do something that goes against our laws.”

MPP’s Will Luzier, a leader of the Yes on 4 campaign, helped to conceive the bill. “I think it will help local law enforcement agencies to have clear parameters regarding their involvement with federal actions against lawfully permitted cannabis establishments,” said Jim Borghesani, an MPP spokesman.

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Tax and Regulate

Massachusetts Campaign Using St. Patrick's Day-Themed Billboard to Promote Initiative

On Monday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts announced the installation of a St. Patrick’s Day-themed billboard in Boston that highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The billboard features a green beer, a glass of whiskey, and a marijuana leaf below the words, “Beer,” “Liquor,” and “Safer,” respectively.unnamed It directs viewers to RegulateMass.com/Safer, which details several ways in which marijuana is significantly less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society.

“Our goal is to make this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities as educational as they are enjoyable,” said CRMLA Campaign Manager Will Luzier, who previously served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. “While folks are celebrating with a pint of green beer or a glass of whiskey, we want them to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful substance."

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Prohibition

The Smell of Marijuana is No Longer Justification for Searches in Massachusetts

Jul 11, 2014 Kate Zawidzki

Barbara Lenk, Boston, Massachusetts

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled Wednesday that police officers cannot search vehicles based solely upon the smell of unburnt marijuana, Boston.com reports. The court had previously decided that warrantless searches of pedestrians or cars for the smell of burned marijuana were illegal in 2011. They believed that allowing unwarranted searches based on the smell of marijuana would be inconsistent with the 2008 law that decriminalized marijuana in Massachusetts. The ruling on Wednesday was based on the fact that the human nose cannot discern the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana as opposed to a non-criminal amount. Possession of less than an ounce is not a crime in Massachusetts and, as the police cannot reliably distinguish criminal amounts of marijuana by smell, searches would not be legal. The justices wrote, “We are not confident, at least on this record, that a human nose can discern reliably the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana, as distinct from an amount subject only to a civil fine.”

The court said this decision was consistent with the will of the people who want the police to focus on more serious crimes. The court rejected the argument from law enforcement that they can search vehicles based on the smell of marijuana because possession of marijuana is still a criminal offense under federal law. Justice Barbara Lenk said, “The fact that such conduct is technically subject to a Federal prohibition does not provide an independent justification for a warrantless search.”

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