Senate debates bill to reform Massachusetts marijuana laws

Senators filed 111 amendments to the proposal

AP file

BOSTON (WWLP)—The Senate is debating more than 100 amendments to a proposal reforming Massachusetts pot laws. Although the bill proposes several changes, senators told 22News the legislation aligns with the ballot law voters approved last November.

Senators filed 111 amendments to the proposal, addressing issues such as marijuana convictions, growing and smoking in public areas.

“Public safety is always a concern. Obviously, impact on children is very important to me. I worry about this product being targeted to kids, especially through edibles,” said State Senator Don Humason, (R) Westfield.

The Senate bill proposes a 12 percent total tax rate on pot sales, keeping the tax rate approved by voters. Senators said keeping pot sales taxes low will help reduce the black market.

The House bill more than doubles the Senate’s proposed tax rate, taxing pot sales at 28 percent. Senators are concerned the rate could send consumers to other competition.

“We have to keep in mind that we can’t have it too high, although we want the revenue of course, we want to make sure it’s not too high that it feeds the black market,” said State Senator Jim Welch, (D) West Springfield.

While several states, including Washington and Colorado, have higher tax rates on marijuana purchases, Maine is set to charge a 10 percent tax on pot sales.

Under the Senate bill, voters of a city or town can limit the number of marijuana shops within city limits.

The House and Senate will have to compromise on a final proposal. They hope to send the bill to the governor’s desk by the end of the month.

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