Hearings on Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana begin in the Statehouse in Boston Monday, where lawmakers will mull potential changes to the voter-approved legislation legalizing marijuana use among adults and paving the way for commercial sale of the drug. Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg has said he intends to respect the voters’ wishes while also publicly considering changes, including sharply increasing the proposed 3.75 percent tax on sales, decreasing the number of plants residents are allowed to grow and increasing the legal age for purchase past 21, according to the Boston Globe.
Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, supported legalization. Governor Charlie Baker, meanwhile, opposed legalization and signed a bill — supported by ill-attended sessions of the House and Senate — delaying the likely opening date of retail marijuana shops from January to July 2018. House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, another Democrat, also opposed legalization. The joint House-Senate committee beginning its hearings in the Statehouse Monday was created by Rosenberg and DeLeo.
Expected to testify are members of the “Yes on 4” group that helped lead the ballot initiative legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts, according to the Associated Press. The group has gone into defense mode since its victory — 54 percent of state voters approved of legalization on Election Day — seeking to rebuff attempts by lawmakers to weaken, delay or substantially change the law by appealing to popular democracy. “The idea that legislators in my state could eviscerate a popular ballot question, as I watch a minority of conservative voters overrule the majority of national voters, I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit still,” Northampton lawyer Michael Cutler, who helped write the state’s legalization law, told The Globe.
State treasurer Deb Goldberg, whose office will oversee regulation of marijuana sales, will also appear before the state panel, the AP reports.