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Friday, February 18, 2011

Massachusetts Bill to Legalize Marijuana

by  Edward Xiao

article imageMassachusetts bill to legalize marijuana

A bill calling for the legalization, regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana has been introduced into the Massachusetts Legislature. 
According to The 420 Times, "The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act", which was drafted by attorney Richard M. Evans and introduced by Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst), would legalize the possession, consumption and sale of marijuana. An age limit of 21 and multiple fee-requiring licenses would also be established. The bill includes specific regulations and limits, such as processors of marijuana only being able to process the cannabis into one ounce packages, a $5000 fine for driving while high and specific indoor locations to sell the product. As noted in The Daily Collegian, the bill would also erect a Cannabis Control Authority. Made up of seven part-time directors serving seven-year terms and collecting salaries 20% that of the governor's, the group would oversee the Massachusetts cannabis industry, create regulations and rules, revoke licenses in the case of transgressing any laws pertaining to marijuana and its distribution, approve licenses for cannabis and collect $10 excise taxes per one percent of THC per one ounce of marijuana. While many are glad to see such a bill in the legislature, they still maintain a cautious outlook on the likelihood of the bill actually passing. Although he created it, Evans believes that the bill won't pull through because the legislature "won’t touch the legalization bill with a 10-foot pole.” He further states that supporters of the bill are reluctant to voice their approval because of fear that they will be labeled drug addicts. A ballot initiative, Evans claims, would be a more effective first step towards the legalization of cannabis. However, such an initiative would have to wait until 2014 to be introduced because under the law, highly similar proposals cannot be filed within four years of each other. Nevertheless, Massachusetts is still a focal point in the crusade to legalize marijuana. According to The MetroWest Daily News, since 2000, voters in the state have had a positive reaction to every question pertaining to the easing of restrictions on weed.