On Wednesday, the half-dozen legislators still present on Beacon Hill passed a measure delaying the opening date for recreational marijuana stores in MA from January to July 2018.
The timetable for opening retail marijuana stores is now expected to be pushed from the beginning of 2018 until the middle of that year.
More than 1.8 million MA residents voted for legal recretional marijuana, compared to about 1.5 million who voted against it. Marijuana possession and home-growing it became legal on December 15; however, it is still illegal to sell it.
MA legislators voted on Wednesday to approve a bill that overturns significant portions of the marijuana legalization law that 1.8 million voters approved just last month.
Governor Charlie Baker, who campaigned against the initiative, must still sign off on the law change.
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Marijuana Majority founder and Marijuana.com journalist Tom Angell said in a message to The Root, "It's absolutely insane that in our American democracy a single-digit number of legislators can, in a matter of minutes with very little notice, override the will of almost two million voters". He said that they might now try to increase the age to purchase marijuana, push the date back even further or try to tax it so much that users still would be forced to use the black market.
"This short delay will allow the necessary time for the legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law". It is legal to possess marijuana, but illegal to sell it. Only a handful of lawmakers were present. But it will delay the openings of retail shops as well as the deadline for regulations from the Cannabis Control Commission.
The 12-page ballot question was approved by voters in November.
Several lawmakers, including Rosenberg, have expressed concern that the 3.75 percent state excise tax now in the law would be too low to cover regulatory and enforcement costs.
"I'm actually not surprised (by the delay)", he said.
In a notice posted to the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition's website, the group says 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".