Massachusetts’ First Legal Recreational Marijuana Sales to Occur on November 20

The first legal recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts will take place on Tuesday, November 20.

Cannabis Becomes Legal TonightTwo marijuana retail outlets were given the green light today to begin selling recreational marijuana next week. New England Treatment Access in Northampton and Cultivate Holdings in Leicester will become the first outlets to sale marijuana as part of the state’s legalization initiative (passed by voters in 2016).

Both stores, which were given the go-ahead to open in three days by the Cannabis Control Commission, say they will open their door to recreational marijuana customers the morning of November 20. New England Treatment Access plans to open at 8 a.m., while Cultivate Holdings will open at 10 a.m.

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Massachusetts Approves State’s First Recreational Marijuana Business License

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission voted unanimously yesterday to approve the state’s first-ever recreational marijuana business license.

Cannabis Becomes Legal TonightThe commission approved granting the license to Sira Naturals, a marijuana cultivation facility (located in Milford). The company currently grows medical marijuana.

“We’re very excited about it and we are going to work very, very hard to continue our tradition of providing premium cannabis sustainably grown and sold with integrity,” said Sira Naturals CEO Michael Dundas following the commission’s approval of his company’s license.

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Over 11,000 Drug Convictions Vacated by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has dismissed over 11,000 drug-related charges.

All of the chargers were dismissed due to evidence crossing paths with disgraced state chemist Sonja Farak, who was arrested in 2013 for stealing cocaine. Farak later admitted to spending nearly a decade stealing cocaine and other drugs that were meant as evidence. Farak also admitted to testing seized drugs (all being used as evidence in criminal cases) while under the influence of various drugs including LSD, MDMA, methamphetamine, amphetamine, phentermine and ketamine, among others.

“As an initial matter, the respondents — the attorney general and the offices of the Massachusetts district attorneys — have agreed to vacate certain convictions obtained using drug certificates signed by Sonja Farak,” wrote Justice Frank Gaziano in an April 5 declaratory judgment.

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Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules Roadside Drunk Driving Tests Not Valid for Marijuana

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that field sobriety tests used to determine if someone is drunk cannot be legally used as conclusive evidence that a motorist is under the influence of marijuana.

Cannabis Becomes Legal TonightAccording to the Associated Press, the Supreme Judicial Court said it was reasonable for police officers to testify — as non-expert witnesses — only to their observations about how individuals performed during sobriety tests. However, the court ruled that officers are not allowed to tell juries if defendants passed or failed such tests, nor offer their own opinions on whether a driver was too high to be behind the wheel.  The ruling came in a case of Thomas Gerhardt, who was charged with impaired driving in 2013.

The court noted there currently is no reliable scientific test for marijuana impairment comparable to tests for blood alcohol content. In drunken-driving cases, results of field sobriety tests can be correlated with blood alcohol readings as evidence of impairment. The lack of such a test for marijuana has taken on greater significance in states such as Massachusetts that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults, but where driving under the influence of cannabis remains a serious crime.

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Legal Marijuana Sales Likely to Begin July 1st in Massachusetts

According to Steven Hoffman, Chair of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, legal marijuana sales should begin in the state by July of next year.

Cannabis Becomes Legal Tonight“My understanding is that it is an expectation, but not explicitly part of the law, that retail establishments open July 1 of 2018 and that’s our intent at this point,” says Hoffman, who makes it clear that this time-frame isn’t guaranteed; “if the reality is it can’t be done, it can’t be done”, he says. “But I don’t accept that right now.”

If sales do begin by July 1st, the Legislature’s target date will be met; they voted (when making amendments to the voter-approved legalization law) to begin licensing cannabis retail outlets June 1, 2018, as to allow sales to begin the next month.

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Massachusetts to Garner Up to $172 Million in Annual Taxes From Marijuana Sales By 2020

Massachusetts is set to receive a large influx of annual tax money from marijuana sales once the industry gets underway, according to the Department of Revenue.

According to the department, the state will receive up to $172 million in annual tax revenue from legal marijuana sales by 2020. Voters legalized cannabis last year, but cannabis retail outlets aren’t expected to be open until next year.

The numbers are based on a 12% tax rate; this includes the standard 6.25% sales tax, a 3.75% excise tax and a 2% city-wide tax. Nevada lawmakers may still raise this to a higher tax rate, however. According to the department, if lawmakers raise the excise tax from 3.75% to 5%, the state would garner an additional $11 million in annual taxes.

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Massachusetts Governor Signs Bill Delaying Opening of Cannabis Retail Outlets

baker
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

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”.

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With No Public Input Massachusetts Lawmakers Delay Opening of Cannabis Outlets

By David Ingram, Reuters

Massachusetts lawmakers on Wednesday pushed through a surprise six-month delay in the retail sale of marijuana for recreational use, saying they needed more time to tinker with a legalization measure that voters approved last month.

Meeting during a holiday-shortened week, the state’s House and Senate voted to push back the licensing of cannabis shops from Jan. 1, 2018, until July 1 that year, according to a copy of the legislation posted online.

The delay frustrated those who championed a Nov. 8 ballot measure, easily approved by voters, to allow use of the drug by adults 21 and older in private places.

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Everyone 21+ Can Now Possess, Use And Grow Cannabis In Massachusetts

legalizemeyoPortions of Question 4 have officially taken effect in Massachusetts. This means that it is now legal for everyone in the state who is 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of cannabis, or up to 10 ounces at a private residence.

Those 21+ can also legally grow up to six plants for personal use.

Cannabis retail outlets were also legalized under Question 4, but aren’t expected to be open until sometime in 2018.

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Cannabis Becomes Legal Tonight at Midnight in Massachusetts

On November 8th Massachusetts voters approved Question 4 to legalize cannabis. Tonight at midnight, as it becomes December 15th, a huge part of that initiative takes effect.

Cannabis Becomes Legal TonightOnce it hits midnight, it will immediately become legal for everyone 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of cannabis; if at a private residence they can possess up to 10 ounces. They can also grow up to six plants.

At this point there is no legal outlet for those in the state to obtain cannabis, until the legal cannabis market is up and running (sometime next year). However, if somebody is already in possession of cannabis, or finds a way to obtain it, it won’t be legal for them to retain possession and consume it.

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