Massachusetts: Lawmakers Reconcile Question 4 Rewrite Bills

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Reconcile Question 4 Rewrite Bills

Massachusetts Question 4

Update: Lawmakers reconciled the House and Senate implementation bills on July 16. The reconciled language, H 3818, imposes a new statewide excise tax of 10.75 percent on top of a 6.25 percent sales tax. Cities also have the option to impose an additional 3 percent tax. Medical marijuana sales will not be subject to taxation. The measure limits the ability of local communities to ban retail facilities if a majority of voters approved Question 4, but makes it easier for communities to do so if they previously opposed the initiative. It also expands patients’ access to medicinal cannabis by permitting nurses and physicians’ assistants the ability to recommend cannabis therapy. The measure now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Update: Lawmakers on Monday, July 10, reconvened reconciliation hearings regarding dueling House and Senate bills to implement Question 4. Please continue to contact your elected officials using the letter below to urge them to reject proposed House changes to the voter-approved law.

Update: H.3776 was amended by the Senate and failed to pass. On June 23rd, a Conference Committee was established to reconcile the differences to change the rules to Question 4. Contact your elected officials now to tell them to implement the law as soon as possible in a manner that respects the outcome of the election. Contact your legislators via email below or click here to find your representatives and give them a call to express your support for the Senate version and opposition to the House bill. 

Update: The House members reintroduced and passed their version of the Question 4 rewrite on June 21, by a vote of 126 to 28. The bill, which NORML opposes, raises taxes of marijuana sales to as much as 28 percent and also gives municipal officials, rather than voters, final say in deciding whether to have retail facilities in their neighborhoods. The House vote sets up a showdown with the Senate, which is deliberating over their own much more modest implementation bill, S.2097 — one that is supported by the Yes on 4 campaign. MassCann/NORML held a “Kill The Bill Rally at the capital on June 21. 

Update: The Senate released their own version of new rules on June 16 which is supported by the Yes On 4 campaign. 

“The House bill repeals the will of the voters–literally,” Jim Borghesani of the Yes on 4 campaign told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens. “They repeal what happened in November of 2016, and replace it with a bill that would be unworkable and that would likely result in significant delays.”

Update: Governor Charlie Baker has expressed skepticism regarding the proposed tax increase.

You have spoken. Are your elected officials listening?

On Election Day, 54 percent of voters decided in favor of Question 4: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act – permitting adults to legally grow and to possess marijuana for personal use, while also establishing regulations governing commercial cannabis cultivation and capping taxes on retail sales.

Your message could not have been any clearer: It is time to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.

But it has become apparent that some powerful politicians and bureaucrats wish to ignore voters’ will and rewrite history.

Lawmakers have already unduly delayed the implementation of the law. Now they are moving to change the law altogether.

Members of the House have introduced and passed legislation significantly amending The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Among proposed changes to the law:

  • The bill would more than double taxes on retail cannabis sales, from 12 percent to as much as 28 percent;
  • The bill would strip local control away from municipal voters and unilaterally give local government officials the power to decide whether or not to ban marijuana facilities in their communities;
  • The bill would restrict the kinds of marijuana edibles products that may be sold and purchased by adults.

Voters knew full well what they were voting for on Election Day. And now it is time for politicians to respect it.

Visit Massachusetts NORML to learn more about what you can do in your state.

Please use the pre-written letter below to demand your lawmakers and Gov. Baker abide by the will of the voters. 

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