Speaker DeLeo, Senate Prez Rosenberg Agree: Six Months Needed to Rewrite New Marijuana Law

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/12/29/speaker-deleo-senate-prez-rosenberg-agree-six-months-needed-to-rewrite-new-marijuana-law/


STATE HOUSE — The leaders of both the House and Senate are on board with a six-month time frame for rewriting the state’s marijuana laws after voters in November approved regulated sales of the intoxicating plant.

In a brief hallway interview on Thursday, House Speaker Robert DeLeo concurred with the six-month goal Senate President Stan Rosenberg laid out on Wednesday for passing a new marijuana law intended to deal with issues lawmakers feel are not properly addressed by the ballot law.

“That’s our hope. I think that’s what we’re shooting for. I don’t think we’d want to see it go much longer than that,” DeLeo told the News Service. “I think, we’d want to give it enough time to make sure that we hash out any questions or issues that people had. At the same time we want to do something as quickly as possible to make sure the will of the voters is carried out.”

The House and Senate on Wednesday rushed to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk a bill that delays by six months implementation of the regulated retail sale provisions in the law. While planning to review the legislation, Baker on Wednesday said a six-month delay is “perfectly appropriate.”

Rosenberg’s timeline would make marijuana front-and-center for lawmakers after they convene their new session next Wednesday. The issue will likely compete for attention with state budget deliberations over the first half of 2017.

The Legislature has for years shied away from marijuana debates, looking on as voters approved three laws easing restrictions on the intoxicating plant. Now lawmakers, including many who opposed the voter law, are tasking themselves with rewriting and amending the law.

“We definitely want this signed into law within six months,” Rosenberg said Wednesday of the anticipated new marijuana legislation. He said, “The hope is that we will have it on the governor’s desk in time for it to be smoothly implemented starting six months from now.”

Provisions of the bill permitting people 21 and older to possess, grow and gift marijuana went into effect Dec. 15 and are not affected by the bill passed Wednesday.

Both Rosenberg and DeLeo have also highlighted the combined 10 percent sales and excise tax rate on marijuana in the law as an area of future focus. Asked to list some issues he hopes a new law would address, DeLeo also raised edible marijuana products – which opponents of the ballot measure warn could be dangerously appealing to youths.

DeLeo said he has not yet determined who should be appointed to the Marijuana Committee the branches plan to create to help assemble proposed marijuana policies for the full Legislature’s consideration.

While some have criticized the Legislature’s move to delay implementation of marijuana retail sales, DeLeo said there is understanding from “both sides of the issue” on the need to “get it right.”

“I think everyone that I’ve spoken to seems to be on board in making sure that we get it right,” DeLeo said.

Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots, a Colorado-based company that connects marijuana consumers “with products they’ll love,” said in a statement, “It’s a shame a small group of legislators are working to undermine the will of millions of voters in Massachusetts. We’ll be mobilizing our community of hundreds of thousands of cannabis consumers to get this decision reversed early next year.”

– Written by Andy Metzger