Lawmakers continue debate on bill to reform Massachusetts’ pot ballot law

The committee went into the 4th of July holiday without releasing a final bill

AP file

BOSTON (WWLP) – Lawmakers were hoping to get a marijuana bill to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk by the end of June, but nearly a week later, the state’s Conference Committee is still negotiating changes and has yet to come out with a final proposal.

Voters legalized recreational marijuana last November, but lawmakers have yet to fully implement the law.

The state’s six-member Conference Committee met Wednesday morning and afternoon to continue debating the House and Senate plans. The committee went into the 4th of July holiday without releasing a final bill. 22News Spoke with one senator on the Conference Committee who said the challenge comes with working out differences between two very contrasting plans.

“I’d rather see us take our time and get it right than rush it and get it wrong,” said State Senator Richard Ross, (R) Wrentham. “We’ll take as long as we need to to do our job.”

Several marijuana reform activists came to the State House Wednesday, eagerly waiting for the release of a bill to reform Massachusetts’ marijuana ballot law. Marijuana reform activists have two main concerns: how much lawmakers will decide to tax pot sales and who they’ll allow to ban pot shops in cities and towns.

“It should be in the hands of voters,” said Kamani Jefferson, President of Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council. “City officials may not agree with their constituents on this and like I said, if there’s no where to legally buy it, you’re going to most likely keep illegally buying it.”

The Senate allows voters to ban pot shops through referendum, while the House bill gives control to local officials.

A final marijuana bill must be signed by the governor before the voter-approved ballot law can be changed.