Massachusetts House Speaker Wants To Change Marijuana Law Even Before It Passes


An interesting phenomenon goes on in marijuana politics. For many years activists and advocates lobby their respective legislatures, urging elected officials to step up and reform marijuana laws. Not one state has legalized marijuana via legislative action in America, so it’s safe to say that most of what activists have been asking for has fallen on deaf ears and closed minds. That was the case in the states that had to legalize marijuana via citizen initiative, and is the case in the five states that will be voting on marijuana legalization next month.

In the states that have already passed marijuana legalization, the legislatures there went from ‘not interested’ to ‘tweaking marijuana policy is our top priority.’ That is what I saw unfold in Oregon, where elected officials dragged their feet on marijuana reform for many years, but went into hyper drive once Measure 91 was passed. Legislators used it as an opportunity to make all types of changes to the medical marijuana program, and after they were done with the medical side, they hacked and slashed the language of the legalization initiative that votes approved.

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo has already expressed that he wants to change many things if/when voters approve marijuana legalization next month. Per MassLive:

“I will not hesitate from day one to make changes to it,” DeLeo told WCVB’s “On the Record” in an interview that aired Sunday.

Under DeLeo, the House has steadfastly avoided marijuana debates, looking on as voters used the ballot in 2008 to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and in 2012 to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

But while ballot activists have seized control of marijuana policy in Massachusetts, DeLeo indicated that the Legislature might be ready to enter the policy fray.

Massachusetts House Speaker DeLeo stated that he intends to change provisions in the initiative regarding taxation, impaired driving, and marijuana edibles. I think that it’s disgraceful when politicians ignore the will of voters for many years, then when the voters succeed in making democracy happen, those same politicians trample on the will of the voters. It happened in Oregon, and sadly, it will likely happen in Massachusetts. Many people think that the finish line for legalization is on Election Day when the ‘yes’ vote wins. That’s not true. Election Day is only the beginning. That’s when the battle moves to the legislature, and to the local level where bans and other local provisions will be pushed for. Get ready!

image via Boston Globe

  1. saynotohypocrisy says

    So the legislature can change some things in the Massachusetts initiative (taxation, impaired driving, and marijuana edibles) but, I assume, not completely overturn it. What determines what the legislature can and can’t change? In other states as well.

    1. myconaut says

      I think that part of the answer is whether the measure is a constitutional amendment, such as Colorado’s Amendment 64 and Florida’s measure 2, or whether it is a statute, such as Oregon’s measure 91. A constitutional amendment is written into the state’s constitution, and cannot be altered by an act of the legislature. That is why measure 2 failed to pass in 2014, even though it got 58% of the vote. Florida has a requirement that constitutional amendments must get 60% of the vote to pass. The tradeoff, however, is that their legislature and governor — who are very hostile to cannabis — would not be able to repeal or alter the amendment if it did pass. That’s why they’re running an amendment again this year, and this time they expect it to get 60%. It is a safeguard against hostile politicians.

      Similarly, the Colorado legislature was limited in what they could do about measure 64. That’s why it remained largely intact after passage. Measure 91 on the other hand, and the OMMP, were both enacted as statutes, which is why the Oregon legislature was able to make so many changes to both programs.

  2. M. Simon says

    Just another case of the INs vs the OUTs. This is a piece I wrote for a Conservative site. Note that I got a bit about MJ Reform included. Somebody has to talk to those people. Even if most of them don’t listen well.

  3. Fester says

    While it sucks the politicians want to wreck the law, it’s a good sign that they think it’s going to pass.

  4. We Vape says

    Par for the course. Until we vote these rotten apples out or fill their campaign coffers with more donations than the big corporate lobbies, science will never drive marijuana policy.

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