The success of the cannabis legalization movement is rather remarkable. While living under prohibition is maddening, it is important for advocates to remember how far that we have come. Just think back to November 4th, 1996: “No Diggity” just replaced “Macarena” as Billboard’s #1 song in America; Romeo + Juliet starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio was the top box office draw; and no state had yet voted to legalize medical cannabis. Now, over half of our nation has legalized medical cannabis and marijuana is legal 8 states and our nation’s capital. Massachusetts helped add our our movement’s momentum by passing Question 4 with over 53% of the vote despite much of the political establishment in opposition, including the state’s Governor and Attorney General.
Marijuana will officially be legal in Massachusetts for non-patient adults on December 15th. While it won’t be legal to buy and sell marijuana, adults 21 years and older will be able to legally possess an ounce of marijuana outside of the home, along with 5 grams of concentrate. At home, adults can cultivate 6 plants, capped at 12 per household, and possess up to 10 ounces. Adults will be able to legally gift up to an ounce of cannabis, just in time for the holidays.
BostonMagazine.com reported on the commercial and taxation details:
The referendum’s passage also clears the way for marijuana retail stores to open in the state as early as January 1, 2018.
The state will now create a Cannabis Control Commission to oversee a new industry for the drug. Sales of marijuana will be subject to a 3.75 percent tax (on top of the usual 6.25 sales tax). Communities will also have the option to tack on an additional 2 percent in taxes, which they can keep and spend locally. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public or to drive while intoxicated.
With a maximum 12% tax, cannabis consumers in Massachusetts will enjoy a lower tax rate than any other state, except for newly-legalized Maine, who have a 10% maximum tax rate. Every state that legalizes cannabis gets to benefit from the states before it, and the initiative drafters in Massachusetts were right to learn from the high tax rate of other states. This lower tax rate will help licensed and regulated businesses more effectively compete with the illegal market.
A sincere thanks to the freedom fighters and voters of Massachusetts that have successfully ended the failed and harmful policy of prohibition in the Bay State. Not only will Massachusetts residents enjoy more freedom, jobs and revenue, but the success in the state will only help fuel our momentum to legalize cannabis in more states in 2018, 2020 and beyond.