Voters in the Bay State just legalized recreational cannabis, but if Lewis has his way, they’ll be enjoying far less weed, and they won’t be able to purchase any until 2020 at the earliest — more than two years behind the schedule set by voters.
More than 53 percent of voters in the birthplace of the American Revolution approved Question 4 on Election Day, legalizing marijuana use, small-scale cultivation, and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over.
Massachusetts was one of four states to legalize marijuana during the 2016 general election and one of eight states in the country to experiment with letting adults ditch the black market and legally grow their own cannabis — or just buy some in a store if they can’t grow or just can’t be bothered to.
So far, very little has happened. Stores aren’t supposed to open until July 2018 — a deadline already pushed back by six months once, by lawmakers who called a sparsely attended “special session” around Christmastime — and adults 21 and over have only enjoyed the right to possess without fear of arrest and grow cannabis in their homes since Dec. 15.
But before the experiment can even begin play out as the voters clearly intended, Lewis is already pushing for extended delays. He’s also backing a proposal that would allow regulators to ban any marijuana product in stores aside from “unadulterated” flower.
The Boston Globe said Lewis is coming even harder for home growers: he wants to cut the amount of marijuana that can be harvested at a home grow by 80 percent — from 10 ounces down to two.
For voters who thought they were getting broad legalization, this is all bad, and it quickly could become much worse: another state lawmaker has suggested raising the legal age for cannabis possession and use from 21 to 25 and reducing the number of plants allowed in a single household.
Marijuana advocates are predictably furious, and are accusing their elected leaders of “eviscerating” a law approved by 1.8 million voters.
Lewis, a suburban Democrat who strongly opposed Question 4, released a statement in which he said (apparently rhetorically) that lawmakers “must respect the will of the voters.”
But Lewis inexplicably claims voters weren’t voting on specifics.
“I think that when the voters voted on Nov. 8, they voted to make it legal and safe to possess, use, purchase, sell, and to grow marijuana, including in their own homes,’’ Lewis said. “I don’t believe that people were voting on things like whether you should be able to homegrow three plants, or six plants, or 12 plants.”
Alternative fact? In actual fact, Question 4 did specifically address the question of how many plants could be grown: six per person and 12 per household.
Lewis is now on the outs with Question 4 ballot sponsors like the Marijuana Policy Project (and a demonstrated foe of marijuana legalization), but the senator is also considered the “top expert” on cannabis in the state house. He’s considered a favorite to chair a special committee on marijuana, which means his restrictive proposals stand a good chance of becoming law.
Of the four states to legalize cannabis, lawmakers in Massachusetts have shown possibly the least interest in seeing it through.
Lewis says the point is to “do pot legalization right” — which for him seems to mean doing it as slowly and as little as possible.
TELL US, what do you think of Lewis’ views on edibles, concentrates and home growing?