Massachusetts recreational marijuana: Concerns, proposals

Legal marijuana sales not expected to begin until mid 2018 in Massachusetts

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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – There could soon be changes to the state’s recreational marijuana law; the Trump Administration indicated plans to ramp up enforcement efforts against recreational marijuana.

Recreational marijuana is legal in a handful of states, including Massachusetts, but it’s still illegal federally.

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Under the Obama administration, states had complete control over their recreational marijuana laws, including the regulation and cultivation aspect.

White House leaders have suggested that President Donald Trump wants to crack down on federal marijuana laws. State lawmakers want to know how that could impact us in Massachusetts.

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg is in charge of overseeing recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. She sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions a letter on Tuesday, asking for clarification on how marijuana laws will be enforced.

“I would greatly appreciate your prompt response to clarify whether this is true,” Goldberg wrote. “And if so, what changes we should prepare for, before we commit public resources to implementing the recreational marijuana laws.”

State leaders still haven’t hammered out all of the rules and regulations for recreational marijuana. Dispensaries are expected to open next year, but it’s still unclear what the tax revenue from those sales would be used for.

Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo said he wants to see the money spent on the opioid epidemic. He suggested that the state use the tax revenue from retail pot sales to create a Substance Abuse Addiction Fund.

DeLeo announced the proposal Tuesday afternoon, and compared it to a trust fund the state created to prevent and treat problem gambling, using revenue from Massachusetts’ casinos.

Governor Charlie Baker said hasn’t yet discussed the proposed fund with DeLeo, but called the idea “interesting” on Tuesday.

There were as many as 2,000 opioid-related overdose deaths across the state last year, according to the Department of Public Health. It was the sixth consecutive year with an increase in deadly overdoses.

Read State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg’s letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions below:

Final 03-07-17 Letter to Attorney General Sessions