Prospects about Massachusetts recreational cannabis legalization could be more interesting than expected. In 2016 the state will decide about ending marijuana prohibition and, if that happens, Massachusetts may become one of the biggest marijuana markets in the US. It could be even bigger than Colorado and Washington, where legalization of recreational cannabis turned out to be a big business thanks to marijuana tax revenue. So far in those two states legalization has had a positive impact on crime reduction and on creating new jobs too.
The reasons why Massachusetts could become one of the biggest marijuana markets in the country are due to its morphological characteristics: the state is close to other large markets such as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and has a high population density. That could help the industry to immediately spread out by reaching a lot of people.
Massachusetts senators visited Colorado
We are talking about an immense opportunity for entrepreneurs who could be part of a very rich market, in a business sector which is quickly developing worldwide. Just take a look at the business growth of the most famous international seed banks such as Dinafem, Barney’s Farm or Sensi Seeds. For these reasons, it started a strong legalization campaign aimed at reaching the number of signatures necessary for a referendum that could be held in November. A legalization campaign would need to collect another 10,000 signatures by June.
In the meantime 10 members of the Massachusetts Senate Special Committee on Marijuana have visited Denver to learn directly from a state that has already legalized recreational marijuana with great success. Massachusetts senators met Colorado officials to learn more about the topic and to research the impact legalization could have in Massachusetts.
The Senate Special Committee on Marijuana was created in 2015 to a likely ballot question that, if will be approved by voters, would allow pot to be used recreationally. As one of the Special Committee Senators said, “If Massachusetts were to legalize marijuana for recreational use it would be a major social change, and there are ramifications for public health, public safety and for economic areas “.
The visit of the Senate Special Committee was paid for by a nonprofit foundation involved in health policy. In the 3 day visit they had a meeting with agricultural regulatory experts too just to learn about everything from pesticides to home growing to industry best practices.
Recreational cannabis in Colorado
In Colorado use of recreational marijuana has allowed since 2012 by voter’s decision. Anyone 21 years or older is allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for recreational purpose. An interesting point is that there is no need to be a resident in Colorado to benefit from the law. Marijuana possession and consumption is a constitutional right for which all a person must have is an issued identification to prove he is 21 years or older. That has been very important for tourism. To prevent visitors from going from one retail store to another and stockpiling cannabis for export, they can only purchase 1/4 ounce at a time, while residents are allowed to buy up to 1 ounce.
This is the law: a legislation that made Colorado the first state in the nation to open recreational pot stores and the first one that regulated marijuana from seed to sale. Massachusetts State Senators are now studying this legislation to import in case of a successful referendum. The proposed initiative would allow adults who are at least 21 years old to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and to grow a limited number of marijuana plants in their homes.
It would create a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail outlets, and it would provide local governments with the authority to regulate and limit the number of marijuana establishments, and to create a 3.75% state excise tax on retail marijuana sales.
Medical cannabis in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has already legalized medical marijuana use in 2012 through a ballot question, but actually the first dispensary opened in June 2015. More than 12,000 people are legally allowed to purchase marijuana from one of the state’s two open dispensaries. They need to get a card by an approved doctor to certify the need. Diseases for which cannabis use is allowed include cancer, Glaucoma, Hiv, Hepatitus C, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s, Multiple sclerosis and other debilitating conditions determined by a doctor. Once a disease is certified by a doctor, the patient is provided with a physician certification that allows them to possess medical marijuana, purchase medical cannabis from a caregiver, or appoint a caregiver to grow it. There are 17 companies that have received provisional licenses to produce medical marijuana, and more than 150 applications have been submitted – companies that could now take advantage of recreational cannabis legalization, if it happens next November.