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Massachusetts: Hearings On Recreational Marijuana Begin In Statehouse

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Hearings on recreational marijuana in Massachusetts began today, March 20, in the Statehouse in Boston, where lawmakers are considering changes in the voter-approved legislation legalizing marijuana.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, a Democrat, supported legalization, and has said he intends to respect voters' wishes while considering changes, including a significant increase in the proposed 3.75 percent sales tax, decreasing the number of plants citizens are allowed to grow, and increasing the legal age for purchase past 21.

Governor Charlie Baker opposed legalization and signed a bill that will likely delay the opening date of marijuana shops from January to July 2018.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a Democrat, also opposed legalization.

The joint House-Senate committee beginning its hearings in the Statehouse today was created by DeLeo and Rosenberg.

According to the Associated Press, members of the "Yes on 4" group that helped lead the ballot initiative legalizing marijuana are expected to testify.

The group has been defending its victory since Election Day, when 54 percent of state voters approved marijuana legalization, responding to lawmakers attempts to weaken, delay or substantially change the law.

U.S.: Pro-marijuana Campaigners Launch TV Ads Ahead Of November Votes

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana use in Maine and Massachusetts launched their first television ads today, hoping to boost public awareness and support ahead of November votes on the issue.

Voters in five U.S. states will determine whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this Election Day, following the lead of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

The Massachusetts ads feature Tom Nolan, a former Boston Police Department officer and current professor of criminal justice at Merrimack College, promoting legalization as a way to better regulate marijuana use.

"Question 4 requires strict product labeling and child-proof packaging and bans consumption by kids," Nolan says in the 30-second spot, citing the question's position on the Nov. 8 ballot, the start of a $650,000 ad campaign.

The Maine ad also features an ex-law enforcement official, former Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion. He argues that legalizing the use of the drug by adults would free up police resources to investigate violent crimes. The Maine group has budgeted $1 million for its ad spending.

The campaigns launch a week after the group Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona launched its first blast of TV ads. Voters in California and Nevada will also face ballot questions on the issue this year.

Massachusetts: Boston's First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Almost four years after voters approved medical marijuana in Massachusetts, the first Boston dispensary opened today, August 3.

The new dispensary in downtown Boston on historic Milk Street is the seventh to open in the state.

Columbia Care CEO Nicholas Vita expects business to be brisk. Columbia Care is the parent company of Patriot Care, which is opening the Boston location.

"But we don't expect it to be overwhelming," Vita said. "It's still a medically focused program so the patients we see have all received their certification from physicians approved by the state."

Fr. Joe Quinn, a friar at St. Anthony's Shrine, attended the opening on Wednesday.
"This takes away the stigma, which is wonderful," he said. "This is a medication and that's all it's used for."

There were more than 27,000 medical marijuana card holders in Massachusetts as of the end of June.

The other Massachusetts marijuana dispensaries are located in in Ayer, Brockton, Brookline, Lowell, Northampton and Salem.

U.S.: Keurig-Like Device For Marijuana Set To Hit Market Next Year

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The mainstreaming of marijuana continues: Now, a Keurig-like device is set to hit the market early next year, and a former Keurig executive is one of the co-founders of the company which will manufacture them.

There are plenty of nascent businesses springing up to serve consumers who now have access to legal cannabis. Among the offerings are tools and gadgets to go along with the weed -- and because American consumers seem to love things in "pods," there's a weed vaporizer in development right now that's being called the Keurig for marijuana, reports Mary Beth Quirk at Consumerist.

CannaKorp is the company behind the CannaCloud, the Keurig-like machine for pot, reports Curt Woodward at The Boston Globe. The device heats up the weed enough so that it releases vapor, but doesn't actually incinerate it. Consumers then inhale the vapor and get high.

Massachusetts: Senate President Rosenberg Sitting Out Marijuana Referendum

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg has not joined the group of powerhouse politicians that have united to oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, and says he is not convinced by arguments that legalizing marijuana would worsen the state's opioid addiction problem.

Rosenberg said Tuesday during a question and answer session with State House reporters that he remains unsure about a connection between marijuana use and the opiod epidemic.

“I’m not an expert so I have no opinion right now on that and I haven’t studied it,” Rosenberg said. “I’ve heard those comments. I’m not sure what they’re basing it on, and it would be helpful to see what information they’re using to come to that conclusion.”

Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced last month that they will lead the anti-legalization campaign fighting the ballot question that would legalize recreational marijuana use in the state. Attorney General Maura Healey has also come out against legalization, though she is not taking a role in the campaign.

Rosenberg is skeptical of the "gateway" drug argument made by Baker, Walsh and Healey that marijuana use leads to opioid abuse. He has said he believes adults should be able to make their own decisions about personal marijuana use.

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