A vote in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to alter the state’s recreational marijuana laws has been delayed. This is according to an announcement made by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who postponed the voted after hearing concerns from members of the Democratic caucus.
According to MassLive, the proposed measure would allow cities and municipalities to ban the sale of recreational marijuana with a simple majority vote from municipal leaders. Under existing law, recreational marijuana sales can only be banned through voter referendum.
The proposed measure would also raise recreational marijuana taxes by imposing a 16.75% excise tax on marijuana sales as well as a 5% local tax. Combined with the general state sales tax of 6.25%, that raises the total recreational marijuana tax rate to 28%. Under existing law, the total tax rate is 12%.
When first announced, the measure was met with strong disapproval from marijuana advocates, including “Yes on 4” spokesman, Jim Borghesani, who told MassLive that the bill was written in a “rapid and sloppy” manner.
“It’s very, very dangerous because it encourages the illicit market, the very thing voters decided in November they didn’t want to see anymore,” Borghesani said. “What this House version does is pretty much give the industry back to the drug dealers.”
Although DeLeo praised the bill overall, the speaker contended that there were “certain things” that needed to be cleaned up before the Massachusetts House could go to a vote, which is expected to happen sometime next week.