pat jehlen

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Massachusetts: Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Legalize And Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol


Measure with bipartisan support would establish a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

Massachusetts lawmakers this week introduced a bill that would make marijuana legal for adults and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

H. 1561, sponsored by Rep. David Rogers (D-Belmont), Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville), and a bipartisan group of 13 co-sponsors, would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana. The bill would also establish a regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, processing facilities, and testing facilities.

“Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society, and it ought to be treated that way,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There is a mountain of evidence demonstrating marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, less toxic, and less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior.

"Adults shouldn’t be punished for making the safer choice,” Simon said.

The Marijuana Policy Project plans to support a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol if the legislature fails to pass such a measure sooner.

“Voters in Massachusetts are ready to end marijuana prohibition,” Simon said. “We hope their elected officials are, too. If the status quo is maintained in the legislature, change will occur at the ballot box.”

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