Starting today, a new chapter begins. Massachusetts is now the seventh state where adults 21 and older can legally purchase marijuana products from regulated businesses.
All over the country, we’re seeing the benefits of treating marijuana similarly to alcohol. In states like Colorado and Washington, marijuana arrest rates have plummeted. New tax revenue is bolstering schools and local communities. Law enforcement agencies are solving serious crimes like assault and burglary more quickly. Massachusetts made the right decision in 2016, and it is only just beginning to reap the rewards.
As we celebrate this milestone in Massachusetts, let’s resolve to make 2019 another year that leads to historic reform. With record popular support, and newly elected governors and lawmakers who support legalization, we have the opportunity to pass laws in several states that lack the ballot initiative process. But, there’s a lot of work to do to turn that popular support into new laws. Your contribution ensures we can continue changing laws across the country.
On Friday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the compromise bill that makes changes to Question 4. While the tax rate has increased and local control has been amended slightly, the bill largely keeps the legalization law intact.
This marks the end of our legislative battle to defend Question 4. As you know, the Massachusetts House originally proposed a very problematic bill that would have repealed and replaced the law, thereby raising the tax rate far too high and eliminating entirely the right of voters to approve or reject local bans.
With your help, we sent a strong message to the Legislature to respect the will of the people and to only make minor changes. We generated over 1,000 calls to state representatives and state senators. To everyone who called, emailed, or otherwise contacted their elected officials: thank you! Your advocacy had a real impact.
The final outcome is a major improvement on the House proposal. The tax rate will only increase to 20%, and by January 2020, all local bans will require approval — until then, local governments in towns that voted "no" in 2016 can establish bans without voter approval.
It is now time for the state government to begin the work of implementing the law and establishing a regulatory system for marijuana in Massachusetts. That means providing proper funding and crafting specific regulations without delay.
We will continue to keep you updated, because we may need your help again to defend Massachusetts' legalization law.
After weeks of persistent advocacy from Massachusetts residents, the Senate and House have reached a compromise that largely respects the will of the people. The House’s flawed “repeal and replace” bill would have made disastrous changes to the law voters approved, and we are relieved that the Legislature has agreed to a more sensible plan for implementing legalization.
The compromise bill’s most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted “no” on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019. For towns that voted “yes” in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve. The maximum tax rate — which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes — will increase from 12% to 20%. Under the bill, the state tax will be 17%, and the local option will be 3%.
MPP and our allies successfully led the 2016 campaign to legalize and regulate marijuana in Massachusetts. After our historic victory in November, it was concerning to see some members of the House propose drastic changes to the initiative approved by the voters. But thanks to the work of thousands of dedicated supporters across the Commonwealth, the law approved by voters will remain largely intact.
The bill isn't perfect, and we preferred the original language of the ballot initiative. However, given how problematic the House bill was, we are satisfied with the final compromise.
We generated over 1,000 calls to state legislators urging them to reject the House’s “repeal and replace” bill. To everyone who made a call, thank you!
In Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy just approved a "repeal and replace" bill that 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. 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.
If you are a Massachusetts resident, please call your state representative and tell them not to vote for this bill when it is presented for a vote in the House on Thursday. We must not allow politicians to repeal and replace the will of the people, especially when their proposed changes are so flawed and misguided.
The campaign in support of Question 4 in Massachusetts began airing its first television ad this week. The 30-second spot, which can be viewed below, features former Tom Nolan, a retired Boston police lieutenant who is now an associate professor and program director of the criminal justice graduate program at Merrimack College.
In the newly released ad, Nolan discusses several of the controls on marijuana that would be created under Question 4, as well as the millions of dollars in revenue that would be generated each year by taxes on adult-use marijuana sales.