Massachusetts Lawmakers Hear Testimony on Marijuana Legalization; Patients Rally for Safe Access to Medical Marijuana

Massachusetts Lawmakers Hear Testimony on Marijuana Legalization; Patients Rally for Safe Access to Medical Marijuana

BOSTON, MA — Lawmakers in the Massachusetts legislature heard testimony on a bill to legalize marijuana for adults Thursday, while outside the State House medical marijuana patients and advocates rallied for access to medical marijuana as the implementation of the 2012 voter-approved program continues to face delays and controversy.

Inside, lawmakers heard testimony on House Bill 1632, the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act, introduced by Ellen Story (D-Amherst).

If passed, the bill would allow for adults 21 or older to grow, possess, and share marijuana, including the non-profit transfer of marijuana to other adults.  The bill does not specify possession or cultivation limits.

The bill also establishes a tax for retail sales of marijuana, and a new division within the state government to oversee and regulate the cannabis industry.

Activists urged the legislature to pass the bill, or face a statewide ballot initiative in 2016 to place the issue before voters.

“The issue before this committee today, Mr. Chairman, as I see it is not how marijuana is going to be legalized in Massachusetts. The issue is who’s going to do it? Is it going to be the Legislature, or will it be the voters?” asked Northampton attorney Richard Evans, a longtime supporter of ending marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

“If the Legislature continues to cede the leadership on this issue to the voters, as it has done for the last two election cycles, then you can be sure that the bill that the people of Massachusetts are looking at in January of 2017 will be one that’s drawn, not calculated to protect the public health and safety, but rather to attract the support of as many voters as possible who are tired of prohibition and are looking for an opportunity to do something about it,” Evans continued.

“The sky has not fallen in Colorado,” he added, noting the recent drop in crime since the state legalized marijuana in 2012.

Testimony on the bill was heard by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, who’s recently appointed chair, Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Boston), favors legalizing marijuana and treating it the same as alcohol, giving hope to activists who have long watched bills to legalize marijuana or to allow medical marijuana die in committee every legislative session for nearly two decades.  The committee was not expected to vote on the bill Thursday, but will issue a decision on the measure in coming weeks.

“Voters should not be making laws like this. Legislators should. But when the legislators won’t, voters must,” Evans said. “So long as the Legislature continues to do nothing on this issue, you are continuing to cede leadership to the voters, and giving people like me and the other activists who support these reforms the moral high ground.”

While lawmakers in Massachusetts have a long history of failing to act on bills to reform marijuana laws in the state, Bay State voters have long favored marijuana reform in polls and at the voting booth, changing the laws when their elected representatives fail to do so.  Recent polls have found more than half of Massachusetts voters favor of marijuana legalization in the state.

In 2008, Massachusetts voters approved ballot Question 2, which decriminalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, replacing jail time with a $100 fine. Four years later, in 2012, voters again went to the ballot box in favor of further marijuana reform, this time authorizing medical marijuana in the state by passing ballot Question 3. Both initiatives passed with over 60% approval state wide.

These voter initiatives have not been implemented without push back from state lawmakers, however.  The implementation of decriminalization was met with nearly one third of communities in Massachusetts enacting bylaws tacking additional fines on top of the statewide $100 fine for marijuana possession, and several overzealous prosecutors, especially on Cape Cod, seeking ways to circumvent the law and prosecute criminal cases against low level marijuana possession offenses.  The Massachusetts Supreme Court has since issued several rulings upholding the marijuana decriminalization law.

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  • Jeff Lubie Kempton

    I’ve been smoking since I was 14. I’m now 41. It helps greatly with my A.D.D. Its helps me focus, gives me relief from my anxiety and pain, and much more. I’m so happy the government is finally seeing what so many have known for so long.

  • Edo Edo

    I like a lot of things about the review of this cannabis legalization hearing in Massachusetts. There was no specification about limits to possession or cultivation. I also liked how lawmakers seem incented to act on legalization, because they are starting to fear action by voters. Above all else, I thoroughly enjoyed the tone of the article, which portrayed a “when”, not “if” theme to legalization…

  • Shepherd Yerusalem

    Actually Marijuana is mentioned in the bible by name:

    1980, etymologists at Hebrew University in Jerusalem confirmed that cannabis is mentioned in the Bible by name, Kineboisin (Also spelled Kannabosm), in a list of measured ingredients for “an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compounded after the art of apothecary to be smeared on the head. The word was mistranslated in King James version as `calamus’ – Exodus 30:23 (Latimer 1988).

    The above means it was in the oil they used to rub on their skin, it was in the bread they ate called the Lord’s Supper, and it was in the incense that was burned in the temples.

    Marijuana is the Tree-Of-Life talked about in the bible, indeed it was a real tree that grew from the ground:

    Gen 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree, the tree of life was also growing in the garden…

    The above reveals that the Tree-Of-Life is indeed a real tree that grows in the ground.

    Rev 22:2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the ocean, was the tree of life. The foliage of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

    We are living in a day when the Tree-Of-Life (what the world calls marijuana) is healing everything it comes in contact with.

    The ONLY thing dangerous about marijuana are the cops who shoot people for having it:

    Number of American deaths per year that result directly or primarily from the following selected causes nationwide, according to World Almanacs, Life Insurance Actuarial (death) Rates, and the last 20 years of U.S. Surgeon Generals’ reports.

    TOBACCO – 340,000 to 450,000

    ALCOHOL (Not including 50% of all highway deaths and 65% of all murders) – 150,000+

    ASPIRIN (Including deliberate overdose) – 180 to 1,000+

    CAFFEINE (From stress, ulcers, and triggering irregular heartbeats, etc.) – 1,000 to 10,000

    “LEGAL” DRUG OVERDOSE (Deliberate or accidental) from legal, prescribed or patent medicines and/or mixing with alcohol – e.g. Valium/alcohol – 14,000 to 27,000

    ILLICIT DRUG OVERDOSE – (Deliberate or accidental) from all illegal drugs – 3,800 to 5,200

    MARIJUANA – 0

    (**Marijuana users also have the same or LOWER incidence of murders and highway deaths and accidents than the general NON-marijuana using population as a whole.** Cancer Study, UCLA; U.S. Funded ($6 million), First & Second Jamaican Studies, 1968 to 1974; Costa Rican Studies, 1980 to 1982; et al. LOWEST TOXICITY 100% of the studies done at dozens of American universities and research facilities show pot toxicity does not exist. Medical history does not record anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana (UCLA, Harvard, Temple, etc.)

    Accordingly a 1993 study done by the U.S. Department of Transportation came to the same conclusion as the above concerning marijuana and driving safety:

    “Marijuana, administered in a dose of 100 µg THC per kg of whole body weight…did not significantly change mean driving performance as measured…” – U.S Department of Transportation: Marijuana and Actual Driving Performance DOT HS 808 078

    The fact is people who use marijuana reflexes are not affected in a negative way and they become more conscious of safety, sometimes refusing to even drive.

    Marijuana is a plant with a safety record second to none.

    Anyone who would like to dispute these FACTS, point to a credible death that involves marijuana and nothing but marijuana, or hold your tongue.

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Ophelia Rump

    There should be no tax clause in the 2016 Vote. In fact all taxes should be specifically prohibited by law. All taxes. Tax Exempt status in 2016. Start the movement now, end the war. Call it the demonitization of Marijuana rule, end the monitization of this weed from crime and government.

  • James Pherris

    IMO dispensaries aren’t coming this year because of the lawsuits with some merit. The permitting process was flawed and favored a former DA/congressman with no related experience over the experienced. One suit is claiming the high costs to compete were discriminatory. Given dispensaries can’t plant a seed until all the paperwork is done, and that won’t happen until the last lawsuit is dismissed, I don’t see anything until 2015 at the earliest. It could take years to straighten this mess out.

    With that said caregivers are up and running with no shortage. Mine tests everything for contaminants and will soon have their own web app for ordering. All legal under the law. Don’t wait for relief if you don’t have to.

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