Critics say new marijuana bill might be unconstitutional

Portions of new law could potentially violate equal protection laws

BOSTON (WWLP) – Voters can decide to ban pot shops in some communities, but that decision will be handed over to local leaders under the final marijuana bill.

But some lawmakers question if this compromise is unconstitutional.

Voters legalized recreational marijuana last November in a 54-46 vote. But if a majority of your community opposed the ballot law, the final word on whether a pot shop can open in your community will be handed over to local leaders.

Under the proposal on the governor’s desk, voters can ban pot shops through a referendum where the majority approved recreational pot.

In towns that voted against legalization, local leaders would decide.

Read more: Marijuana News

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said in debate that the bill could see a constitutional challenge if passed, possibly violating equal protection laws that ensure the state doesn’t restrict your rights as a citizen.

“There might be legal challenges to pieces of this law,” State Senator Don Humason explained. “We’ve already seen challenges with respect to the medicinal marijuana law that have gone all the way to the Supreme Judicial Court.”

But one conference committee member told 22News they don’t think the legislation violates the equal protection clause.

Governor Baker has 10 days to review and act on the bill.