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Lawmakers Vote To Delay Massachusetts Marijuana Stores

29 December 2016

Despite a statewide ballot initiative stipulating a January 2018 opening date for recreational marijuana shops in MA, state legislators on Wednesday voted to push that deadline back by six months.

Lawmakers said the bill will give them time to improve provisions on the ballot question.

The bill also directs the Baker administration to contract for a study of marijuana use, including patterns of use and methods of consumption, incidents of impaired driving and marijuana-related hospitalizations and the economic impacts on the state.

"The legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety". She has said that to create an effective new bureaucracy that can regulate and police recreational marijuana sales requires more time than the ballot question gave her. "This short delay will allow the necessary time for the Legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law", Rosenberg said in a statement.

Erik Altieri, Executive Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) called lawmakers' decision a "slap in the face" to the almost two million MA voters who cast votes in favor of legalization on Election Day.

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The state hadn't had a great implementation of medical marijuana.

The delay frustrated those who championed a November 8 ballot measure, easily approved by voters, to allow use of the drug by adults 21 and older in private places.

And adjusting the voter-approved law flies in the face of democracy, they say.

Supporters of the ballot are criticizing State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who is tasked with appointing members to the Cannabis Control Commission by March 2017, so they can begin constructing a regulatory framework for commercial sale.

"I think, given our tourist economy, we could double that, so we're looking at close to $100 million in just taxes", Segerblom said earlier this month. Lawmakers are holding "informal sessions", lightly attended gatherings where most of the legislation passed tends to be non-controversial.