Gov. Baker signs final marijuana bill into law

The legislation calls for a 20 percent tax on pot sales

BOSTON (WWLP)–You can smoke recreational pot in Massachusetts, but you can’t legally buy it. You may not have to wait much longer before the industry is up and running after several delays in the process.

Governor Charlie Baker (R-Massachusetts) signed a bill into law Friday that rewrites several measures of the ballot law voters approved last November, including tax rate and local control over banning pot shops.

Baker said he doesn’t support recreational marijuana legalization but wanted to respect the will of the voters.

“The people voted this and I think it’s really important that we put the program in place and deliver a workable, safe, productive recreational marijuana market for them here in Massachusetts,” said Baker.

The legislation calls for a 20 percent tax on pot sales, nearly doubling the maximum 12 percent tax rate voters approved. That tax rate includes the 6.25 percent sales tax, a 10.75 percent excise tax and a three percent local option tax your city or town can choose to charge.

Marijuana reform activists say the 20 percent tax rate is a starting point, but they are concerned it could drive business to other competition.

“Maine right now has a 10 percent tax rate so that’s half of the Massachusetts tax rate. that may mean some business from Northern Massachusetts goes right up to Maine,” said Communications Director Jim Borghesani of Yes on 4.

Voters can ban pot shops through a referendum where the majority approved recreational pot, but local leaders would decide in towns that voted against legalization.

The legislation sets up a cannabis advisory board to study and make reccommendations to the state on the regulation and taxation of marijuana.

The legislation calls for appointment of a cannabis advisory board by August 1 as well as a cannabis control commission by September.