Massachusetts: Lawmakers Amend Voter-Initiated Marijuana Legalization Measure

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 28, 2016

    MAWith little debate, House and Senate lawmakers voted today to significantly amend Massachusetts’ voter-initiated marijuana law.

    The vote sets the stage to delay the establishment of state-licensed marijuana retail facilities from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018. Governor Charlie Baker, who campaigned against the initiative, must still sign off on the law change. [UPDATE: Gov. Baker signed the language into law on Friday, December 30.] Separate provisions in the law eliminating penalties for adults who privately possess or grow personal use quantities of cannabis took effect on December 15.

    According to The Boston Globe, the “extraordinary move” by lawmakers took place in an “informal” legislative session with “just a half-dozen legislators present.”

    NORML had been urging lawmakers to adopt the law swiftly as voters intended, and it continues to urge Massachusetts voters to take action.

    NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri called lawmakers’ decision a “slap in the face” to the nearly two million Massachusetts voters who decided in favor of Question 4 on Election Day.

    “The arrogance and hubris lawmakers are showing toward voters is remarkable,” he said. “The voters have spoken and it is incumbent on legislators to carry out their will. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to impose criminal penalties on marijuana – doing so in 1914. After more than a century of this failed policy, it is time to bring prohibition to an end in Massachusetts.”

    The move by lawmakers to delay aspects of the law’s implementation is not altogether surprising, as politicians and bureaucrats had previously discussed restricting home cultivation as well as raising the proposed sales taxes rate on marijuana sales.

    35 responses to “Massachusetts: Lawmakers Amend Voter-Initiated Marijuana Legalization Measure”

    1. Michael Kelley says:

      Vote them out.

      • Synth8 says:

        Unfortunately, America just voted IN an entire collection of ardent prohibitionists that remain silent and aren’t disclosing their intent.

        Many Republicans are still so fascist on this topic that I wouldn’t be surprised to watch Session’s confirmation hearings slide by and have him not get asked his stance on this issue, just so they can avoid it and create more ‘shock and awe’ later from the legal stalwarts as they drop the hammer.

        Best case, they’re all in one tidy package now and will be exposed over the next 4 years so they can all be flushed from office, like a giant bowl of diarrhea into the sewer.

        Conversely, any regressive measures those ignoramuses make now could provoke permanent fixes from congressional action to protect the industry. Night turns into day sort of speak.

      • Karolyn says:

        In Massachusetts we voted yes to question 4 now the state is refusing to acknowledge our vote. This is not the way that a democracy is supposed to work. if it was to vote on a higher tax I’m sure we’d all be paying that tax by January 1st. Butt it doesn’t agree to everyone and then marijuana become legal and they are making it possible for drug dealers and gang members to make money well the state drags their feet as usual

    2. Dee says:

      Slap in the face is NORML advocating for legislation that clearly gives government the opportunity to control patients access & even outlaw cannabis in cities as they see fit. Guess you guys are more political/corporate than activists.

      • Brenton says:

        Yeah, NORML also advertises for the same opiate cartel pharma corporations that they bash so often. I have seen ads for suboxone and pill mills multiple times on this site. Hypocrisy.

      • Julian says:

        So by contrast an undisclosed continuance of going to jail for marijuana would be a better option? Is the perfect the enemy of the good when the remaining option is PRISON?

    3. TheOracle says:

      Massachussetts, Maine, you might as well just hold joint talks with Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont to legalize adult recreational and restructure the medical marijuana market within that framework all in tandem with one another, and nobody gives a shit if Trump doesn’t like it. What’s not to like? There’s plenty of money in it, and Trump likes money.

      U.N. to reclassify cannabis, yeah okay, should’ve done it a long time ago. Ah, I’m not waiting on the U.N. for their approval. The U.S. just needs to remove cannabis altogether from any kind of schedule and pave the way for full legalization.


      What’s the matter with Kansas?


      • Julian says:

        Interesting articles, thanks Oracle.
        Don’t be so quick to downplay the momentum in the UN Single Convention. While the ASA is largely focused on legalizing medical marijuana, and Sec. of State John Kerry already told us in response to a letter from Sen. Gillabrand that the US doesn’t have to respect the UN Single Convention to legalize, this is the law the DEA keeps pointing at that allegedly prevents them from re or descheduling cannabis in the US. I’ve written before on how the new UN Sec General Antonio Guterrez is the best thing that could happen to legalization internationally. He’s a very wise negotiator and set an example to the world when he decriminalized all drugs in Portugal in 2001. He’ll give wings to Canada and Colombia and he will listen and give voice to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

        As for what’s happening to Shona Banda, I still call this state sanctioned domestic terror on an innocent family. Denying a woman the only safe treatment for her Chrone’s disease? Forcing her 11 year old son to testify against his own mother for speaking the truth at a DARE meeting, making him feel responsible for his own mother’s imprisonment and death? Shona is looking at dying as she has to stop consuming cannabis or lose custody of her child. Clearly, prison won’t give her anything to keep her alive. Please sign this petition if you haven’t already:


    4. Anonymous says:

      What a bunch of jokers, they must think they are in Kremlin! Talk about disrespecting the will of the people. This is right wing democracy in action.

    5. Cat Cassie says:

      I wonder if this has anything to do with Trump and sessions?

      • mexweed says:

        What’s in a name? A trump session sounds like something which would occur in a casino.
        Oh yes I forgot, hint hint, legalization of cannabis creates something which can compete against casinos for attention and money.

      • Julian says:

        Try Patrick Kennedy, Project SAM and Big Pharma. Hell, the money laundering for Big Pharma goes so deep even the Diocese of Boston dumped 3/4 of a million into stopping this bill.

    6. sk says:

      after what happened here in Montana (and recently undid), I can’t help but feel that this is not that terrible of a thing, and it could have been far, far worse. At the same time, I feel strong that there should be some kind of protection to prevent elected officials from meddling in voter rights like this. In the very least legislature should have to wait until the following session to make changes to voter-initiative.

    7. Matt says:

      and now Mr. Sessions and Grassley and Hutchinson and the rest will carry on the ultra-conservative STINK of Prohibition and make it illegal EVERYWHERE all over again, right. This is an outrage, it never ends with this backwardness! Delays and Prohibition standing firm. Just more and more and more of the same!

    8. Matt says:

      SO TYPICAL! This will empower and inspire the opposition in all other states, too, including neighboring ones to continue to attack and attempt to destroy legalization and the future. This is an outrage, but not suprising at all.

    9. Julian says:

      Hubris indeed… lets hope the Supreme Court agrees:


      “Sometimes, the refusal to hear a case is as important as a judicial opinion.”

      It still takes a 60 vote majority in the Senate to confirm the next Justice of the Supreme Court. Lets delay all the way.

    10. Ray says:

      “Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to impose criminal penalties on marijuana – doing so in 1914.”

      In 1914 marijuana was called Indian hemp and (it was made criminal because it was associated with Mexicans). https://books.google.com/books?id=GMjZAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA117#v=onepage&q&f=false

      Indian hemp was also still available as medicine but needed a prescription until the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the DEA) got involved.

      Once the high school drop out Anslinger caught wind of this opportunity to fu#k with minorities he made sure marihuana was associated with blacks and later under Nixon added anti war hippies. http://youtu.be/sXPOw2unxy0

      As of December this year the National Governors Association (of which Gov Cuomo is a member) is looking at a data driven criminal justice reform in five states: Illinois, Arizona, Oregon and 2 states to be announced in early 2017. Let’s make sure New York is one of them and that the data includes cannabis/hemp production and use.

      and since it’s data driven it should take about 10 minutes to run the data through a computer and get the results that prove what the shafer commission did in 1972 which called for decriminalization of marijuana. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shafer_Commission

      It’s ironic that Mass. (The home of the Boston Tea Party) voters got screwed by only a hand full of lawmakers like (R) Stanley Rosenberg and (R) Bruce Tarr.