House debates bill to revise Massachusetts marijuana laws

Lawmakers filed nearly 120 amendments to the proposal

BOSTON (WWLP)—The House is gearing up for a vote on a bill to revise the states marijuana laws, but they have to get through more than 100 amendments.

You can legally smoke and grow your own recreational marijuana under the state’s current pot laws passed by voters in November. But nearly half a year later, lawmakers still have yet to fully implement the law.

The House is debating a bill to revise the state’s ballot law and set further regulations on growing and purchasing pot. But several lawmakers have concerns with the current House proposal.

“Is it actually going to be an industry that dampers the black market? Is it actually going to be an industry that can be safe in our communities and could it be an industry that can actually grow in Massachusetts. Those are the real concerns now,” said State Rep. Aaron Vega, (D) Holyoke.

Lawmakers filed nearly 120 amendments to the House bill dealing with public safety, taxation and regulation. The controversial proposal is seeing push back from both lawmakers and marijuana reform activists on the 28 percent tax on pot sales.

“The tax rate is set far too high. It’s at 28 percent. All that’s going to do is give an invitation to drug dealers to continue selling marijuana and undercutting the legal market,” said Jim Borghesani, Communications Director of “Yes on 4.”

Under the bill, local leaders are able to vote to ban pot shops, instead of allowing voters to decide through a referendum.

“To me, it makes more sense for the people of the town to have a vote,” said State Rep. Paul Mark, (D) Peru. “In my district, I think people want to have their voices heard, definitely.”

The House is expected to take a vote on the amended bill later Thursday evening.