charlie baker

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Massachusetts: Governor Signs Measure To Delay Opening Of Retail Pot Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a measure Friday that delays the opening of marijuana retail outlets by six months in the state. Groups of protesters gathered outside the State House in protest of the move.

Retail dispensaries were supposed to be allowed to open in January 2018, but that won't happen.

The bill was proposed by lawmakers earlier this week. It will not affect the new laws on possession or growing at home, but the openings of retail pot shops will be delayed, as well as the deadline for regulations from the Cannabis Control Commission.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition reacted strongly to the governor's decision. In a statement, it said it was "appalled at this arrogant and cowardly move, whose effect will be to give the black market another six-month monopoly." It added that the delay would deprive Massachusetts "of the considerable revenue that it might generate in taxes from January to July."

Coalition members and supporters protested outside the State House Friday, urging Baker to not sign it.

"This bill, S2524, not only flies in the face of the will of the voters who voted for the January 2018 deadline, it shows contempt for the legislature itself," the coalition wrote online.

Massachusetts: Legalization Campaign Has Raised $2.4 Million This Year, Seven Times More Than Opposition Campaign


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The campaign in support of legalizing marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21 in Massachusetts has raised over $2.4 million so far in 2016, according to data from the state.

The $2.4 million raised by Yes on 4 is almost seven times the amount the initiative's opposition campaign, the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, has raised. This group, which is supported by Governor Charlie Baker and others, has only raised $360,000 so far this year.

The New Approach PAC has been the primary contributor to the Yes on 4 campaign, having donated $2.1 million of the $2.4 million raised.

The Yes on 4 campaign has spent nearly all the money donated, with only $22,500 still on-hand. Most of the money was spent on TV commercials, but the New Approach PAC is expected to make another large donation soon.

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts has spent very little of their funding, still having $320,000 on-hand.

If Question 4 passes in November, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of pot. It would also allow the personal cultivation of up to six plants, and allow those in a private residence to possess up to ten ounces instead of just one.

November 8 is the day of the vote. Marijuana legalization is up for a vote the same day in Arizona, Maine, Nevada, and California .

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.

Massachusetts: Baker-Walsh Anti-marijuana Group To Fight Pot Ballot Measure

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Massachusetts anti-marijuana legalization committee headed by Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo today will publicly challenge backers of the legalization measure to acknowledge the high potency of the drugs it would legalize. They want backers to admit that the marijuana industry depends on these high-potency cannabis products to make a profit.

The Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts alleges in a legal challenge, currently pending before the state’s highest court, that the marijuana legalization measure is based on misleading information about the potency of the products it would legalize. They include edibles such as cupcakes and candy and other highly concentrated forms of marijuana. Opponents call some if these "cannabis crack" because of the high amounts of THC.

“People deserve to know that this ballot question would allow the industry to market and sell a drug that is much more potent than what existed even a generation ago,” the committee said in a statement to the Herald. “It will also unlock the door for the sale of dangerous edible products that are a risk for accidental use by children.”

Massachusetts: School Superintendents Oppose Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents came out Wednesday against a likely ballot question to make marijuana legal for recreational use, saying it is worried legalizing marijuana for adults will make it easier for kids to obtain the drug.

“As superintendents, our primary focus is on helping each and every student reach their full potential, and we believe the commercial legalization of marijuana runs directly counter to that goal,” the executive director of the association, Tom Scott, said in a statement. “Where marijuana is legal, we see increased use and abuse by young people.”

Supporters of marijuana legalization disagreed with that claim.

“We’ve actually seen use among young people remain flat or go down in Colorado,” where recreational marijuana sales for adults began in 2014, said Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts, which is backing the ballot effort in this state.

“We think the more dangerous market is the one that exists today — where drug dealers don’t ask for IDs,” Borghesani said, echoing a main argument of backers that children will be safer when marijuana sales move from the street to licensed stores that sell only to adults.

Massachusetts: Marijuana Initiative Backers' Campaign Highlights Alcohol Hypocrisy


Backers of a ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts are launching a campaign Friday to highlight the hypocrisy of elected officials who oppose the initiative but promote the use of a more harmful substance — alcohol.

Leaders of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol held a news conference Friday morning in front of the Massachusetts State House. They showcased a large, provocative sign featuring their first two targets, Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who just announced they have formed a committee to oppose the proposed initiative because they believe marijuana is too dangerous to regulate for adult use.

Baker has proposed legislation to loosen the state’s liquor licensing regulations and expand the number of locations in which alcohol can be served. He also supported repealing the state alcohol tax and opposed a Boston alcohol tax. Walsh proposed legislation to allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., providing an extra two hours of drinking time.

Massachusetts: Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Responds To New Opposition Committee


The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Thursday issued a statement in response to Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s announcement the same day, that they have formed a committee to oppose the campaign’s initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.

Earlier in the day, the Western New England University Polling Institute released the results of a statewide survey that found 57 percent of Massachusetts voters support the proposed initiative and just 35 percent are opposed.

“Our campaign will not allow our opponents to claim the high road on matters of public health and safety," said Jim Borghesani, communications director for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "The truth is that the greatest danger associated with marijuana is its illegal status. Our opponents seem to prefer that criminals control the marijuana market and sell untested, unlabeled products to people of any age.

“Gov. Baker and others need to understand that conflating the opioid epidemic with marijuana sends a very dangerous message to our youth," Borghesani said. "The blurring of lines between drugs in this country is a pattern that started with Richard Nixon more than four decades ago. And it has caused more harm than good.

Massachusetts: Politicians Form Anti-marijuana Legalization Committee

Massachusetts politicians have formed a committee to oppose marijuana legalization.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Speaker Robert DeLeo, and several other legislators and healthcare professionals have formed a committee to oppose legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts.

The bipartisan committee, A Campaign For A Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, was formed to oppose the upcoming ballot question that would make pot legal in the state.

“I’ve met far too many families in Boston and elsewhere where kids have lost their way in school and been shut out of success in the workplace due to addiction and abuse of marijuana,” Mayor Walsh said in a release. “Where marijuana is legal, young people are more likely to use it and a vote against legalizing the commercial marijuana industry is a vote to protect our kids and communities.”

Gov. Baker said legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts would hinder the state's fight against widespread opiod use and abuse.

“I’m happy to join Mayor Walsh, Speaker DeLeo, Senator Lewis and others in bipartisan opposition to legalizing a recreational marketplace for a drug that would put our children at risk and threaten to reverse our progress combating the growing opioid epidemic so this industry can rake in millions in profits,” said Baker in a release.

Massachusetts: Hospital Group Against Marijuana Legalization

Massachusetts Hospital Assiciation is against legal, recreational marijuana.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association has spoken out against legalizing recreational marijuana in the state.

The board of directors of the association unanimously voted against the measure, citing public health and safety concerns, including commercialization of marijuana and increased youth accessibility.

A letter was published in the Boston Globe last week by Republican Governor Charlie Baker, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, and Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh opposing the legalization measure.

If passed, the proposal would allow the recreational use of marijuana and possession of up to an ounce for adults 21 years of age and over.

It would also allow individuals to possess up to 10 ounces of pot in their homes.

The question could appear on the ballot this November.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Plan To Ban Home Cultivation If Marijuana Legalized


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts voters haven't even legalized marijuana yet, and already state lawmakers are planning how to gut important parts of the law, in case it passes.

A sharply worded Senate report released on Tuesday says that if voters legalize recreational cannabis in the state, lawmakers should promptly cancel their wishes by outlawing home cultivation, imposing high taxes, and prohibiting most edible products, reports Joshua Miller at The Boston Globe.

While the report from the Special Senate Committee on Marijuana claims not to take an official stance on the proposed ballot question to legalize, it repeatedly, and even shrilly, warns of legalization's supposed dangers. The authors claim that legalization could make it easier for children to access marijuana -- despite the fact that it would be limited to adults 21 and older, and black market drug dealers certainly aren't asking for ID currently.

The bipartisan 118-page propaganda piece, I mean "analysis," comes the same week Gov. Charlie Baker, Atty. Gen. Maura Healey, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston published a scathing op-ed in The Boston Globe opp=osing legalization, and the Massachusetts Legislature's judiciary committee heard testimony on the ballot measure.

Massachusetts: Medical Marijuana Rules Dramatically Overhauled


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts health authorities on Friday moved to dramatically overhaul the license granting process for medical marijuana dispensaries, hoping to streamline the process and remove subjectivity and politics.

Regulators from Governor Charlie Baker's administration said the new process gets rid of the secrecy they claimed was prevalent under former Governor Deval Patrick's administration, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe. Controversay about the previous system of licensure inspired more than two dozen lawsuits.

Massachusetts patients still have no safe access at dispensaries, two and a half years after voters approved medicinal cannabis. Fifteen dispensaries have already been licensed, but none has opened.

“This change creates a more streamlined, efficient, and transparent process that allows the Commonwealth to maintain the highest standards of both public safety and accessibility,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, the state’s public health commissioner.

Under the new guidelines, dispensaries will be licensed similarly to other health care facilities such as pharmacies. Each application will be judged using clear guidelines and will move forward when the applying company meets the overhauled standards, according to officials. The old system involved scoring, essentially pitting applicants against each other.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Push Forward To Legalize Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts legislators are working on a marijuana legalization proposal, partly to counteract an expected 2016 ballot initiative push.

Cannabis advocates have long planned an initiative petition drive to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and political analysts have expected the measure to pass in 2016, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe.

But some lawmakers are reluctant to let activists write a legalization law through ballot initiative. The legislators would rather write the law themselves, and have final say on the details. That's why 13 bipartisan sponsors introduced House Bill 1561, which would legalize marijuana for adults and establish a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce, reports Phillip Smith at AlterNet.

"Wouldn't it be a good idea for the Legislature to look at it ahead of time, listen to every point of view, anticipate every problem that we would, and try to do it right?" said Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville), a lead sponsor of a bill to legalize, tax and regulate recreational cannabis.

"I think it's better, if we're going to do this, to do it in the Legislature than on the ballot," agreed Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, who claimed he doesn't have a strong opinion on legalization. Rosenberg isn't listed as a cosponsor, but later said, "I believe if the Legislature doesn't act on it, it will be done on the ballot."

Massachusetts: Legislature Considers Repealing Cannabis Prohibition


Last week the Associated Press reported on the introduction of H. 1561 in the Massachusetts Legislature; the bill would legalize recreational cannabis consumption and sales.

"Bay State Repeal, the ballot-initiative committee aiming to draft the least restrictive citizen initiative repealing marijuana prohibition in 2016, is pleased 15 legislators are seriously considering marijuana law reform," the organization announced in a Wednesday press release.

"We are also pleased the bill permits home cultivation in any amount as long as minors have no access to the cultivation site and there is no intent to sell," the statement reads. "For Bay State Repeal, the right to grow cannabis at home is a key provision of any meaningful reform, both as a matter of civil rights and protection from overzealous law enforcement and as a check on excessive prices.

"We are less pleased to see that the proposed law creates a 'Cannabis Commission' to regulate cultivation and commerce in marijuana for profit," the release reads. "A new bureaucracy is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a mandate for overregulation. A better solution is to assign any needed licensing authority to the Department of Revenue. In addition, the proposed tax on recreational cannabis is excessive and becomes more so over the first four years.

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