Advocates protest possible changes in marijuana sales law

It's still illegal to purchase marijuana in Massachusetts

BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts Voters legalized recreational marijuana last November. 22News was in Boston, where pot advocates are protesting possible changes to the law.

State lawmakers are drafting legislation to revise recreational marijuana laws, but pot advocates are concerned lawmakers may stray too far from the laws passed by voters last year.

You can possess, grow and smoke pot, but you still can’t legally buy it.

Licensed retailers now aren’t expected to set up shop until July 2018. Advocates with the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition rallied at the State House Wednesday, to protect home growers and protest pot tax increases.

They’re calling on lawmakers to stop delaying full implementation of the voter-passed recreational marijuana law.

“They should have allowed the law to go into effect,” Linda Noel, Treasurer of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition told 22News. “They should have allowed it to operate on its original time table. If they’ve got to change the law, we’d like it to stay as close as possible to the voters will.”

Lawmakers are eyeing changes to the law including increasing the legal age from 21 to 25 and raising the tax on pot sales.

“The tax that was put on recreational marijuana sales is far too low,” State Rep. Michael Finn, (D) West Springfield, told 22News. “And if you look at the taxation of marijuana in other states, you realize, the ballot proposal that was passed was significantly lower than every other states.”

State lawmakers have filed several proposals to tap into this new revenue source to fund substance addiction treatment and youth work programs.

Marijuana reform activists argue that raising the tax too high could send consumers to other competition.

“Maine has a 10 percent tax rate so if we raise it much beyond where we have it now, we’re not only going to incentivize the black market, but we’re also going to drive traffic across the border into new Hampshire and Maine,” Peter Bernard, Executive Director of Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council told said.

Lawmakers are expected to release recommendations within the next two months.

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