The Massachusetts House and Senate passed a bill last year, which has delayed the opening of the recreational cannabis stores for half a year. This bill goes against the choice of the 1.8 million voters in the general election. This means that the stores are unlikely to open before the summer of next year, in the mid of 2018.
Many important people, such as Jim Borghesani, who leads a campaign for legalizing and regulating cannabis, believe that it is important that cannabis stores open as quickly as possible. This will essentially ensure that the cannabis market becomes properly legalized, ending the current gray area. Presently, cannabis is legal to possess but it is illegal to sell in the state, which is an absurd and unacceptable situation, according to all legal models.
Borghesani talked to the Boston Globe and expressed that they are extremely disappointed that the Legislative body has altered the Question 4 concept informally, and have not paid the due importance to the impact of their proposed changes.
He further adds that their group will now look to make technical alterations to Question 4 so that the law can be implemented in the timely manner. But they maintain that the original language of the law was perfect and did not require a change in the timeline. The document was already prepared with due consideration give to the required timeline.
Interestingly, the informal session that passed this altered amendment did not receive public scrutiny. Only two senators were present at the time, and the substitution was made within a single minute of the proceedings. The two attendants at the time were Stanley C. Rosenberg and Bruce Tarr.
Rosenberg reported that the altered amendment allows for a six-month delay in some particular provisions of the cannabis selling bill.
The conducting of an informal session goes against people who supported the Question 4 Bill in the state, because the formal sessions were already finished for the year. Even a single member can stop a legislative bill in the informal session, but unfortunately, not many legislators were present at the time.
No roll-call votes are permitted in an informal session, which means that no one objected to the amendment nor supported it during the session.
Deborah B. Goldberg, who is the State Treasurer, has been the leading weed regulator in the state. She has stressed that she needs a delay, as it is essential to formulate efficient bureaucracy, which will enable the policing and regulating the recreational use of cannabis. She says that she requires more time than originally given to her in the Question 4 Bill.
The original language of Question 4 was aggressive and asked for the immediate implementation of adult-use cannabis. It simply allowed that people who are at least 21 years old can purchase cannabis from the dispensaries. The selling should start within one year period of the bill language, which put the selling date to occur by January 1, 2018 at the foremost.
The industry has already observed that it can take some time to set up a legal cannabis selling and regulating program in a state. Most states cannot implement legislation as smoothly as Colorado did. It was able to quickly open the cannabis selling stores, as there was already an established regulatory system present in the state.
It still took 13 months to actually open cannabis selling there in the dispensaries. The Washington State, on the other hand, spent 18 months developing an adult-use system, while it took Oregon over a year to do the same. Alaska, being the slowest in this regard, took two years to establish a regulation system.