Massachusetts Delays On Recreational Marijuana Law

The Massachusetts Legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that could delay the implementation of the sale of recreational marijuana in the state for six months.

The timetable for opening retail marijuana stores is now expected to be pushed from the beginning of 2018 until the middle of that year.

Colorado was able to draft regulations and rollout their recreational market in the amount of time specified under the version of the bill passed by MA voters.

Deborah B. Goldberg, the State Treasurer who was appointed as the chief marijuana regulator in MA, was a staunch supporter of the delay.

"We're disappointed that a bill seeking to change a law passed by a solid margin of voters under the initiative petition process has been submitted in informal session with little notice to supporters", said Jim Borghesani, a leader in the marijuana legalization campaign.

Voters approved a ballot measure November 8 that would allow marijuana to be sold legally in MA, following in the footsteps of Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots, a Colorado-based company that connects marijuana consumers "with products they'll love", said in a statement, "It's a shame a small group of legislators are working to undermine the will of millions of voters in MA".

Gov. Charlie Baker will have to sign off on the change.

"The legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety", said Senate President Stan Rosenberg. "Luckily, we are in a position where we can learn from the experiences of other states to implement the most responsible recreational marijuana law in the country".

Erik Altieri, Executive Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) called lawmakers' decision a "slap in the face" to the almost two million MA voters who cast votes in favor of legalization on Election Day. She has said on numerous occasions that to create an effective new bureaucracy that can regulate and police adult-use cannabis sales requires more time than the ballot question originally gave her. That's because the state now exists in a legal gray zone: Marijuana is legal to possess but illegal to sell.

"The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is remarkable", Altieri added.

"I think they sometimes put these things out to get people aware, and then I think sometimes it is worth it to refine it; to make things safer, to make things better for everybody all around", said Alison Gleason of Northampton.

In Nevada, where a similar referendum was also approved by voters, one of the state's most prominent lawmakers, Las Vegas Democrat Tick Segerblom, is drafting legislation similar to Oregon's and allow the state's retail marijuana sales to start as soon as possible.

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