BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts’ Committee on Marijuana Policy is considering changes to the recreational marijuana law. One of the top proposals is to increase taxes on pot sales.
Lawmakers must attempt a balancing act as they work to provide revenue to the state and keep people from purchasing in other states. Treasurer Deborah Goldberg told 22News, “Although there may be some revenue in fiscal year 2018, mostly from application fees, we do not anticipate any significant revenue until fiscal year 2019, which is when retail sales are slated to begin.”
The current tax on marijuana is a 3.75% excise tax on top of state sales tax. Other states have a higher excise tax on marijuana, such as Colorado at 29% and Washington at 37%. Pot supporters warn that if taxes are too high, marijuana users may return to the black market.
Harvard resident Lucas Thayer said, “The buyers have a choice right now. They can get cannabis anywhere. You can walk out to the park right now and buy an ounce of cannabis for $200, so why would you go to the store and pay an extra tax?”
Some lawmakers hope to use revenues from the pot tax to help combat the state’s opioid crisis. Westfield State Representative John Velis, (D) Westfield, said, “We have a substance abuse crisis going on right now where 4 people are dying every single day. And we just need to be very careful that whatever we implement takes that into consideration.”
Velis and Longmeadow State Representative Brian Ashe have filed a bill that would use the revenues to fund treatment programs for substance abusers.