Massachusetts governor signs bill making recreational marijuana use legal

Massachusetts voters approved an initiative last year to legalize recreational marijuana use and sales but charge a 12% sales tax on it.
By Lucas Rowe | Aug 03, 2017
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill Friday to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state. Baker, a Republican who had opposed marijuana legalization, said that he still had misgivings about it but acknowledged that legalization had the backing of the legislature and a majority of voters.
"I worry terribly about what the consequences over time will be," Baker said. "But, look, the people voted this and I think it's important that we put the program in place and deliver a workable, safe, productive recreational marijuana market for them in Massachusetts."
Massachusetts voters approved an initiative last year to legalize recreational marijuana use and sales but charge a 12% sales tax on it. Over the next nine months, the legislature took up the proposal and negotiated some changes, starting with an increase in the sales tax to 20% and adding on a separate 17% state tax and authorizing municipalities to charge their own 3% municipal tax.

The bill that Baker signed Friday includes these tax hikes. It also sets strict requirements for packaging and labeling of marijuana products, and it gives cities and towns the right to ban or restrict marijuana shops from opening in their neighborhoods and establishes procedures that they can follow to do so.

Bsker acknowledged the amount of compromise and debate that went into the final bill. He gave its supporters and critics both credit for addressing each other's concerns and soliciting public input.
"We appreciate the careful consideration the legislature took to balance input from lawmakers, educators, public safety officials and public health professionals, while honoring the will of the voters regarding the adult use of marijuana," Baker said.
The first recreational pot shops are set to open in July 2018.

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