Marijuana law delay eyed by legislative leaders

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STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 5, 2016…..House and Senate leaders will make a decision in the coming weeks whether to push for a delay this month in key pieces of the marijuana legalization law without waiting for the next Legislature to come into session in January.

“We’ve had discussions abut delaying some of the dates to give us more time to fine tune the bill, and in the next few weeks we have to make final decisions on that,” Senate President Stanley Rosenberg told reporters on Monday after meeting with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Gov. Charlie Baker.

The next Legislature will be seated Jan. 4. During informal sessions before then, any lawmaker can block a bill.

Rosenberg said there’s a “strong feeling” that lawmakers should consider delaying the later deadlines outlined in the ballot law approved by voters on Nov. 8, but he also did not rule out pushing back the Dec. 15 legalization of marijuana use, possession and the home-growing of pot plants.

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“If it’s going to be a delay, it’s going to be a very time-limited delay,” Rosenberg said.

DeLeo said he agreed with Rosenberg’s assessment of the Legislature’s approach to implementing the marijuana legalization ballot question, whose passage must still be certified by the Governor’s Council.

“Whether we would delay the Dec. 15, I think that would probably be a little more difficult, shall we say, to delay. Anything thereafter, I think, would be much easier to delay,” DeLeo said.

The law calls for the establishment of a Cannabis Control Commission by March to oversee licensing and regulation of marijuana products and dispensaries, and lays out timetables for retail sales license applications to be accepted later in 2017 and into 2018.

DeLeo also said that after speaking with Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Revenue Committee Co-chair Rep. Jay Kaufman he does not think using state reserves to pay for marijuana oversight start-up costs would be prudent.

–Written by Matt Murphy