BOSTON (CBS) — The Massachusetts House and Senate completed work on their new recreational marijuana bill last week, coming to a compromise on tax rates and the path by which individual communities can ban pot sales.

The two heads of the Mass. legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, Sen. Pat Jehlen of Somerville and Rep. Mark Cusack of Braintree, sat down with WBZ political analyst Jon Keller to talk about what’s in the new law.

keller1 Keller @ Large: Picking Apart The New Pot Bill

Sen. Pat Jehlen and Rep. Mark Cusack. (WBZ-TV)

Keller mentioned that the bill has some of the nation’s strictest regulations and extensive bureaucracy.

“We do set up a bureaucracy, but you need that,” said Cusack. “This is going to be a potentially billion-dollar industry here in Massachusetts. So what we did in the bill is give minimum instructions to the new Cannabis Control Commission, kind of give them a foundation to get off the ground with, in order for them to get their regulations out the door and to get this industry up and running by July 1, 2018.”

Jon asked Sen. Jehlen if she thought the tax rate agreed upon in the bill–a 20 percent tax–would change over time.

“That’s possible, but I just want to point out that, although it’s higher than what the voters voted for and highter than I would have preferred, it is among the lowest in the country. It’s exactly the same as Oregon, which has 17 percent for the state, 3 percent optional for the local level.”

The three also talked about some of the technical provisions of the bill, and how it might affect black market sales of pot.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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