BOSTON (WWLP) – State lawmakers voted in favor of a bill Wednesday night that would repeal and replace our state’s recreational marijuana law.
The House overwhelmingly approved the bill, which would set further regulations on purchasing pot.
The bill includes nearly 120 amendments to the current marijuana law. Under the bill, local leaders could vote to ban pot shops, instead of allowing voters to decide through a referendum.
Voters in Wilbraham and East Longmeadow have already decided to ban marijuana sales in their towns.
The approved bill would also raise the tax on retail sales from 12 to 28 percent. Supporters of a higher marijuana tax say the revenue is needed to pay for marijuana regulation and enforcement. Those against the tax increase say it would encourage consumers to buy the drug illegally.
It also would establish standards for the testing, packaging and labeling of marijuana products, including edible ones, to assure those products are safe.
Much of the current law would not be changed– including how much residents can possess and grow.
Adults 21 and older will still be able to buy and use up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 12 pot plants per household. Pot shops could begin opening in cities and towns in the second half of 2018.
The Senate is expected to discuss a separate bill Thursday that would make fewer changes to the current law.