Marijuana: Massachusetts Legalization Bill Gets Hearing

A long line of Massachusetts residents lined up for an opportunity to tell their legislators to free the weed as a marijuana legalization bill got its first hearing before the legislature's Joint Revenue Committee Wednesday. The bill, H 2929, the brainchild of Northampton attorney Richard Evans, a former board member of StoptheDrugWar.org and NORML, was filed at Evans' request by Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst).

"Whether you like it or you hate it... it is undeniable in 2009 that marijuana has become inextricably embedded in our culture," Evans told the committee. "It is ubiquitous and it is ineradicable. Members should put on your green eye shades and give close scrutiny to marijuana prohibition," he added, saying that the state could reap revenues from legal marijuana comparable to those gained by introducing casinos.

The bill would remove marijuana offenses from the criminal code and allow for the licensed production and sale of marijuana. Licenses would cost $2,000 a year. It would also impose excise taxes on marijuana retails sales of up to $250 for the highest THC-level weed. Less potent pot would be taxed at a lower rate.

While lawmakers on the committee said little in either support of or opposition to the bill, committee co-chair Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) said he was struck by one particular facet of the arguments in favor of legalization. "This is probably the only hearing this committee has ever had or will ever have with this number of people asking to be taxed," he said.

The move to legalize comes less than a year after Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce. But proponents of the bill argued that decriminalization doesn't go far enough and that it doesn't provide a place for users to legally obtain marijuana.

That measure was opposed by most of the state's political establishment, including Mayor Thomas Menino (D), the state's district attorneys, and by Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who in his '06 campaign said he was very comfortable with the idea of legalizing marijuana, but would veto a decrim bill because he doesn't consider it a priority. But leaders expressed their commitment to implement the measure after it passed.

The current bill is unlikely to go anywhere this year, but now it has at least had a hearing. That's a start.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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proposed tax too high

The tax on cheap pot would be $150/ounce. I currently pay $140/ounce for it. An excessive tax is useless. Let them put a reasonable tax on it and I would be all for it, but this is obviously stupid.

amount of the tax

If you are a Massachusetts resident write and call your representative and senator and tell them you approve of the concenpt but the tax rate is too high on Grade B.

i know what you mean. the

i know what you mean. the taxes are a little to high. but this is ma. all taxes here are high lol. people wont reallly care if they are a little bit over priced. the thing is you can now smoke without being harrassed by cops so people are happy. heres another good thing. you will not be taxed if you give it our for free or using or growing it for personal use!

The taxes being a little

The taxes being a little high is an understatement. $150 per ounce which would normally cost just that... 100% tax rate? Yeah, MA taxes are high, but not that high. I could see 25% being the most reasonable maximum tax, but taxing dollar for dollar is insane.

1. Strength measurement nightmare, 2. Skunkweed myth, 3. taxe$

1. Buds from a different branch of the same plant might have different cannabinoid strengths and ratios, so the cost of trying to measure everything might more than eat up the funds from that $2000 licensing fee.

2. The premise that higher-strength skunkweed is "more dangerous" or needs more bureaucratic penalizing, is both false and pernicious. Users of one-toke herb escape all those extra tokes of carbon monoxide and other toxins causing damage prohibitionists dishonestly attribute to the herb or its vitamin.

3. The good news is that with your precious hand-made long-stemmed one-hitter at 25-mg. per toke, 900 tokes per post-sifting ounce, you can get 10 servings every two days for a year for $500 tax (true production cost probably under $20/oz.). Compare that with a pack-a-day $igarette habit now over $2000/yr. in Massachusetts.

Your first two points

1) The processor and not the state is responsible for grading, so this is a non issue.

2) It has nothing to do with your point, which is valid when prohibitionists argue its stronger now. The point is that just like alcohiol excise tax varies depending on proof of the liquid, so to does the tax.

proposed tax too high (too lazy to think of my own title)

They can make good money and almost eliminate cannabis black market related violence if they don't get too greedy. But at that level of taxation, I prefer the black market. They want to tax cannabis 10 times as heavily as they tax alcohol (just a rough estimate) they need to explain why that's justified, which will never happen in a million years. Any legalization bill that doesn't allow the right to grow your own is a piece of junk, even if it would be a better piece of junk that what we've got now.

Lazy

You are obviously too lazy to read the bill: It allows you to grow your own without a license or paying the tax.

To be honest, I'd prefer an

To be honest, I'd prefer an excessive tax to the current situation. Even if it doesn't change anything, at least the bill could prove that we can legalize marijuana without having any negative repercussions! Then we can talk about adjusting the level of taxation - a much easier issue to tackle than the big one.

adjusting the level of taxation afterwards

That's always a possibility, but the problem could be that the government is so desperate for money, especially since the Great Recession, that they just won't give the funds up, no matter how limited the problems caused by legal cannabis use turn out to be. It would be much easier to accept such a tax if there was a commitment from the start to revisit the issue in a few years, and have the taxation adjusted to a level proportional to the damage caused, compared to the damage caused by bad boy alcohol.

Cannabis taxes

I agree if the tax is too high, we will still have the streetmarket and that's what we are trying to fix. I think when the legislators and the citizens can come to a comprise on the tax or cost part of the legalization program for cannabis, we will see this happen like that. Praise the Lord! From Florida ><((((0>

Here are my issues with

Here are my issues with this:

1- This will never pass. Massachusetts will never legalize the drug, the conservative legacy of the state still has powerful influence in contemporary politics. We were founded be Puritans, and we continue to honor their stance towards drugs and alcohol with huge taxes and other "blue" laws.

2- The underground will always win. There is no way even a government supervised industry could even come close to producing enough product to undercut the illegal production of marijuana. Even if it was $250 for the best ounce, which I find quite low, the powers already in motion will find a way to undercut it.

3- Legal production will never be able to satisfy the demand. What you will get is price speculators and a lower quality product thats grown quick but poorly.

4-I don't think any one will be too keen on going to a weed farm, club, stand, whatever, to buy weed where they will be identified when they can just scroll through their phone and buy a bag.

A good idea tho. Certainly a step in the right direction.

Priority?

That measure was opposed by most of the state's political establishment, including Mayor Thomas Menino (D), the state's district attorneys, and by Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who in his '06 campaign said he was very comfortable with the idea of legalizing marijuana,

but would veto a decrim bill because he doesn't consider it a priority

but would veto a decrim bill because he doesn't consider it a priority

but would veto a decrim bill because he doesn't consider it a priority

Just what is more pressing to the safety of our communities than
Re-Legalization? Even a child knows how to make peace just "Let the people Grow."

what the heck is going on here?

Well i think its all a step in the right direction and its true that over taxing will support the black market our lawmakers want to do away with so some common sense is needed here. The California proposal is to taxe at $50 an ounce a much more sensible rate. I dont agree that mass will never legalize you are the first state to hold hearings on the matter thats major progress.
Due to the money grubbing low lifes in our legislature im sure Calif. will legalize and for the first time i'll be in agreeement with them on something.
this will be a landslide states will be jumping on board to get a piece of the pie.
Since no one knows for sure how many smokers there really are I believe the estimates of tax revenues are way lower than what will be realized. The Feds say 14 million americans smoked in the last 30 days I would say 14 million californians smoked in the last week! Everyone in California who iisnt living in a cave knows someone who smokes and many many people know someoone who grows. We hav emore Hydo shops out here than Radio Shack stores these days. I would not be suprised to find that closer to 30% of the population nationwide is smoking. Its the top cash crop in every state where its grown and its still being brought in from cananda and mexico I just dont believe 14 million people could smoke that much!

Re 'lazy' post: bill does give adults right to grow their own

So I'm guilty as charged.Thanks for correcting me. I'm still too lazy or busy to read that whole long bill yet, but it's right there in section 2. Will try to be more careful in the future. Bill allows free transfer to other adults too.

yea but wat whould be the

yea but wat whould be the outcome on being able to grow it yourself for your own use lik u can make ur own beer u just cant distribute it whould that be then same also what whould all the laws be lik age limit public use also u whould be able to smoke and drive altho drivers under the influse tend to drive more lik old ppl not lik drunk driver i think the legilazion whhould be a good outcome plus it whoudl be so much less money spent on getiing ppl introuble for getiing high and the dangerous of weed are far less than alchol and cigerrets put together

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