Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) has signed into law a bill that delays the opening of cannabis retail outlets.
On November 8th Massachusetts voters gave approval to Question 4 to legalize cannabis. The initiative allows those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis (10 ounces at a private residence) and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. The measure also authorizes a regulated system of cannabis retail outlets.
The way the initiative was written, these outlets were expected to be open by January, 2018; roughly a year from now. The new law delays this by at least six months; this means the soonest these outlets can open is July, 2018.
According to the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, which held a protest at the State House, the delay; “not only flies in the face of the will of the voters who voted for the January 2018 deadline; it shows contempt for the legislature itself, having been passed, not after three readings to the full House and Senate, but in the course of less than an hour by just two senators and five representatives”.
The group says they are; “appalled at this arrogant and cowardly move, whose effect will be to give the black market another six-month monopoly and deprive the Commonwealth of the considerable revenue that it might generate in taxes from January to July.”
According to gubernatorial spokesperson Lizzy Guyton; “The Baker-Polito Administration has been clear that it shares the Legislature’s desire to thoroughly prepare for launching an entirely new industry distributing a controlled substance and is committed to adhering to the will of the voters by implementing the new law as effectively and responsibly as possible”.