Marijuana compromise bill gets Governor MA’s signature, removing controversial section
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a law marijuana compromise bill addressing social equity and taxes. Thursday’s decision comes nearly six years after the Bay State legalized recreational cannabis use.
Senate Bill 3096 aims to advance diversity in the industry and regulate the Host Community Agreement (HCA) between cannabis businesses and municipalities. He proposes to allocate 15% of Marijuana Regulatory Fund moneywhich is fueled by state cannabis excise tax, various operating costs, and industry penalties to a new social equity trust fund. The task of the new fund will be to provide grants and loans to people from communities most affected by the war on drugs who now want to join the cannabis industry.
Part of the bill also offers guidelines on a process for cities to license on-site marijuana smoking establishments or cannabis cafes.
According Sonia Chang-DiazChairman of the Senate’s Cannabis Policy Committee, the compromise bill “addresses some of the industry’s biggest problems.”
Republican coverage deleted only one controversial section of the bill – the proposal to conduct a study on medical marijuana use among college students during school days reported State House News. The American Academy of Pediatrics had previously expressed opposition to the proposed study of medical marijuana use in schools.
No medical marijuana in schools
Whereas Senator Michael RodriguesChairman of the Ways and Means Committee and Senate Keynote Speaker, earlier said the study could help students who would benefit greatly from medical cannabis, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) disagreed.
“The AAP opposes medical marijuana outside of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory process,” a spokesperson for the academy told the Boston Herald.
The association of pediatricians says there is not enough data on proper dosage and side effects to make a decision.
“There are no research studies on the use of medical marijuana in adolescents, so the actual indications, proper dosage, effects, and side effects are unknown. The only data available on medical marijuana in the pediatric population are limited to its use in children with severe refractory seizures,” the organization advised parents.
The governor agreed with the AAP on this proposal, deciding to leave it out of the marijuana compromise bill.
Baker said the measure as written “is very prescriptive – making it clear that the agencies producing the study need to identify ways to make medical marijuana widely available in schools, rather than wondering whether such an allowance is desirable.
“Election initiatives that legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and 2016 included strict measures to keep marijuana away from K-12 schools and schoolchildren. Both laws explicitly stated that marijuana would not be allowed on the school grounds,” the governor wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “Because the proposed study in Section 26 clearly flies in the face of these important and well-established protections and disregards the clear intentions of voters in legalizing marijuana use, I cannot endorse this part of the law Project.”
At a meeting of the Cannabis Control Commission, several hours before the governor signed the bill, the commissioner Ava Callender Concepcion urged his colleagues to take a minute to “recognize the importance of this moment and the magnitude of this impact. I’m by no means saying this one piece of legislation will solve all the problems the cannabis industry faces, but it’s a huge step,” she said. “It’s monumental.”
Chang-Díaz, commented, “This law will rebalance the playing field, where until now wealthy corporations have been able to buy their way through the licensing process and too many local small business owners and entrepreneurs blacks and browns were locked out. The reforms and funding we have fought so hard for will be a game-changer, putting Massachusetts back at the forefront of racial justice in our cannabis economics policy. I am so grateful to the many community members and local leaders who came together and held the state’s feet on fire to make this happen.”
Shanel Lindsaya marijuana advocate who participated in the 2016 initiative’s petitions, said the governor and lawmakers “made history with this vital — and overdue — grant and loan fund.
“This bill is an important step forward in righting the wrongs of Prohibition and over-policing and will open an important avenue for families of color to create jobs in their communities and generate generational wealth,” said Lindsay, who is also co-founder of Fair Opportunities Now.
Photo: Benzinga Edit; Source: Mark Stebnicki via Pexles, and Wikimedia Commons