Mass. House set to pass significant pot legislation changes

New bill could tax marijuana at 28 percent

David Tanklefsky
June 14, 2017 - 1:34 pm

Members of the state House of Representatives are expected to approve a large marijuana policy bill Thursday that could make significant alterations to the voter-approved pot legalization ballot question that passed last fall.

One of the changes raising eyebrows is a provision to raise the total tax on recreational marijuana from 12 to 28 percent. Under the voter initiative last fall, pot sales would incur a 3.75% sales tax and a two-percent local option to tax pot sales, plus the state's regular 6.25% sales tax. The new proposal would impose a new 16.75% state tax and a five percent local tax.

The new legislation would also give local officials the right to ban marijuana shops in their communities instead of letting voters decide. Another change would spread oversight power around to people like the governor and attorney general and take some power away from the state treasurer. 

Yes On 4 communications director Jim Borghesani and other legalization advocates believes the new proposals go against the wishes of voters and could have unintended consequences. He says setting a very high tax rate would just encourage people to purchase marijuana illegally from drug dealers, since the rates would be so much lower. State treasurer Deborah Goldberg's office also implied she does not like the bill.

As of now, the bill leaves alone the provision that adults can grow up to 12 marijuana plants. Retail pot shops are still scheduled to open next July.

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