On June 21, 2017, the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill that would impose a major overhaul of the state’s recreational marijuana laws.
Under the proposed measure, which was approved 126-28, recreational marijuana taxes would be raised from 12% to 28%. Approximately $50 million, which would come from marijuana tax revenue, would be dedicated to substance abuse prevention and education.
Local city councils would be able to ban recreational sales by a simple majority vote, as opposed to the current law which requires a voter referendum.
Although the measure has wide support in the House, many of those involved with the campaign to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts, such as Yes on 4 campaign manager Jim Borghesani, have spoken out against the House bill’s overhaul of recreational marijuana laws.
“The House tonight repealed and replaced the historic measure enacted by Massachusetts residents last November,” Borghesani told WBUR. “Their bill is wrong on taxes, wrong on local control, weak on social justice and irresponsible on regulatory efficiency.”
So far the Senate’s version of the measure has proven more popular with advocates like Borghesani, which was designed to align with the will of the voters as close as possible. Under the Senate version, marijuana taxes would remain at 12% and recreational sales could only be banned through voter referendum.
According to WBUR, the Senate is poised to take up its version on June 22, which means that reconciliation between the two bills could begin over the next several days.