BOSTON (CBS) – They had a big hearing on Beacon Hill Monday about our state’s new marijuana law, just the beginning of a process you’re going to be hearing a lot about in the next few months.
Among the many issues that have to be worked out before full legalization arrives in the middle of 2018:
How much control will cities and towns have over whether or not pot shops can operate within their borders?
The law says you have to have a community-wide vote to ban pot sales, a much higher hurdle than the majority vote of the local city council or board of selectman that’s been proposed. Keep in mind, more than two-thirds of communities in Colorado – the first state to legalize fully – voted to ban pot sales in their towns.
Another big issue – does the law allow for a black market that could override local control, make it much harder to keep pot away from minors, and cut into the tax revenues we’ll realize from legal pot?
Current law lets you grow up to 12 pot plants per household, and one group calling for tighter control says that could yield up to 12,000 joints, raising the prospect of a situation where legal sales compete with a black market from home growing.
And the biggest pending issue speaks to what this new law is all about – money.
The measure written by the pot industry and approved by voters sets a ridiculously low tax rate, well below what other states charge. We’re talking about a billion dollars or more in revenue each year from this, and if the state doesn’t get a fair cut of that, the damage of legalized pot might well outweigh the benefits.
Better buckle your seat belt. The road to fully legalized pot in Massachusetts is going to be a bumpy ride.