While voters in Massachusetts will likely get the opportunity to decide later this year whether the state should legalize a full-scale recreational pot market, members of the State Legislature along with Governor Charlie Baker’s administration are doing everything they can to persuade the people to approach this concept with caution when they head to the polls this November.
Earlier last week, Governor Baker joined forces with Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh to pen an op-ed piece for The Boston Globe urging voters to dismiss the ballot measure being put forth by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMA). Digging into an arsenal of skewed reports, the two state officials say legalization would lead to an increase in minor consumption; it would severely diminish the overall IQ of the next generation; and it will create a veritable thunderdome of emergency health issues that will tax the state’s resources – making all of the tax revenue being projected from legal weed a moot point.
“We hope voters will listen to the doctors, counselors, and substance-abuse specialists in our own world-class medical community who are expressing concerns over legalization,” the group wrote. “Decades of research have now debunked the myth that marijuana is harmless.”
After residents were given the weekend to chew on the administration’s propaganda scheme, the state legislature seemed to almost strategically release the results of its findings from a recent field trip to Colorado. In its 118-page analysis, the Special Senate Committee on Marijuana, which claims it has not taken a particular stance on the issue, suggests that the push to bring legal weed to The Bay State could bring about some serious problems. As a solution to some of the predicted situations, the committee proposed some recommendations to aspects of legalization, such as home cultivation, possession limits and taxes, that they believe would be a better choice than the CRMA’s “Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.”
Although the CRMA’s ballot measure would allow adult residents 21 and over to keep up to 10 ounces at home, the committee is not so sure this is a god idea – proposing a maximum possession limit of 1 ounce of smokable marijuana across the board. They also want to work toward establishing different possession limits for other cannabis products. What’s more is that the committee wants to ban home cultivation or at least impose guidelines that would require residents to register with the state if they intend to grow. The CRMA’s proposal would allow adult residents to cultivate up to six plants and 12 starters for personal use.
When it comes to pot taxes, the committee is not convinced that the ballot measure’s 3.75 percent excise tax along with the state’s regular 6.75 percent sales tax is sufficient enough, advising the implementation of an excise tax between 5 and 15 percent in addition to a special marijuana tax of up to 20 percent.
The report goes on to address the issue of stoned driving, recommending the establishment of a commission to develop “procedures for determining driver impairment due to marijuana, including establishing a legal limit for THC blood concentration that would support at least a permissible inference standard in court.” As it stands, anyone busted for driving under the influence of marijuana in Massachusetts cannot be presumed guilty simply because a judge or jury suggests impairment. There are no THC blood limits in Massachusetts like Colorado and Washington. The CRMA’s proposal would not change the current law.
Several other points were addressed in the report, including recommendations for local bans, restricting edible products, advertising controls and banking.
At this point, it is too early to tell whether the recent op-ed and the committee report will have any bearing on how voters will respond at the polls. Organizers with the CRMA argue that both offerings are “recycled hysteria” from the reefer madness era, and they don’t expect that will sway voters.
Is Governor Charlie Baker’s op-ed just more reefer madness? Let us know what you think.