Representative Crocker supports stronger local controls over state marijuana law implementation

State Representative Crocker, R- Centerville, voted yesterday to support legislation that will give cities and towns more flexibility in implementing the state’s new recreational marijuana law.

Representative Crocker supports stronger local controls over state marijuana law implementation

BOSTON –State Representative Crocker, R- Centerville, voted yesterday to support legislation that will give cities and towns more flexibility in implementing the state’s new recreational marijuana law.

House Bill 3768, An Act to ensure the public health and safety of patient and consumer access to medical and adult use of marijuana in the Commonwealth, also includes protections to ensure that marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles are not marketed or sold to minors.  The bill was approved by the House on a vote of 126-28.

“I believe the legislation passed by the House of Representatives does a great job of answering the questions that were left with the passage of Question 4 this past November. Some of the most important aspects that this legislation specifically references and addresses are the administrative costs, operational procedures, and protective measures for children." said Representative Crocker.

House Bill 3768 retains the personal use provisions of the ballot question by allowing the home growing of 6 marijuana plants per person and up to 12 plants per household.  While it maintains the current prohibition on the sale of marijuana to anyone under the age of 21, the bill expands efforts to keep the drug out of the hands of minors by imposing strong minimum standards for the advertising, marketing and branding of marijuana products.

Although the bill includes a 5% local excise tax on recreational marijuana sales, it also requires cannabis establishments to enter into an agreement to provide a community impact fee to the host community.  The community impact fee is designed to cover the costs imposed upon the municipality by the operation of a cannabis establishment within its borders.  Medical marijuana will remain untaxed.

House Bill 3768 retains the Cannabis Control Commission established under the 2016 ballot question, but modifies its structure by expanding the number of commissioners from 3 to 5 and authorizing the Governor, Attorney General and Treasurer to appoint members. Currently, only the Treasurer is authorized to make appointments to the Commission, which will be responsible for overseeing the implementation and regulation of the cannabis industry in Massachusetts, including the establishment of licensing procedures.

The bill also transfers regulatory authority over the state’s medical marijuana industry from the Department of Public Health to the Commission.  In addition, it requires the Commission to expend $50 million annually from a newly-created Cannabis Revenue Fund to pay for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, with $5 million earmarked specifically for programs in the state’s public schools.

The Senate recently released its own version of a recreational marijuana bill, which is scheduled to be debated on June 22.  A conference committee will work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills, with the goal of getting a final bill to Governor Baker for his signature by the end of the month.