Conference Committee seeks compromise on marijuana law reform

Tax rates, local referendums among the differences needed to be sorted out.

BOSTON (WWLP) – The House and Senate both passed differing bills to revise Massachusetts’ pot law. Now state lawmakers are racing against the clock to reach an agreement on legislation to revise Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana ballot law.

A six-member Conference Committee met for the first time Monday to debate differences between the House and Senate proposals. But nearly one minute after gaveling in, they closed doors to the our cameras and the public.

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The two proposals vary on controversial issues such as how much to tax pot sales and who gets to decide to ban pot shops in cities and towns.

The Senate bill allows residents to limit pot shops through a referendum, but the House gives control to local officials. The House taxes pot sales at 28 percent, while the Senate calls for a maximum 12 percent tax.

“If the tax is too high, the fear is that the black market will thrive even more than it does right now,” State Sen. Jim Welch told 22News.

State lawmakers are pushing to get the bill to the governor’s desk by the end of the week, but say that it may take longer.