Category Archives: Massachusetts Legislature

Gov. Charlie Baker Makes First Pick for Marijuana Commission

Gov. Charlie Baker’s first pick for the five-member Cannabis Control Commission is Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, a Leominster Democrat. Notably, Flanagan voted against the 2016 ballot question legalizing adult use cannabis in Massachusetts, telling the Lowell Sun that she was concerned about the “many unknowns and unanswered questions about what this would mean for the Commonwealth.” She has also made substance abuse prevention and treatment one of her main focuses in the Legislature.… More

Watch: New Massachusetts Cannabis Law – What it Means

Governor Charlie Baker has recently signed a bill that substantially reworks the voter-approved 2016 referendum legalizing a regulated market for adult-use cannabis – and now licensing of adult use establishments is just eight short months away.

Foley Hoag presented a webinar that examines the recent changes to the Massachusetts regulatory framework for both medical and adult use operators enacted by the Legislature in its omnibus cannabis legislation, Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017.… More

Upcoming Webinar: New Massachusetts Cannabis Law – What it Means

Governor Charlie Baker has recently signed a bill that substantially reworks the voter-approved 2016 referendum legalizing a regulated market for adult-use cannabis – and now licensing of adult use establishments is just eight short months away.

Join Foley Hoag on Thursday, August 17 at 12:30 PM EDT for a webinar that will examine the recent changes to the Massachusetts regulatory framework for both medical and adult use operators enacted by the Legislature in its omnibus cannabis legislation,… More

Massachusetts SJC Extends Job Protections to Medical Marijuana Users

In a landmark decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) ruled on Monday that an employee who is fired for testing positive for marijuana due to her lawful off-duty use of medical marijuana can pursue a claim of handicap discrimination against her former employer. With the ruling, Massachusetts has become the first state to afford such job protections to workers who lawfully use medical marijuana. Moreover, the ruling essentially precludes Massachusetts employers from adopting blanket drug-free workplace policies.… More

The Bill Has Landed

No sooner said than done, the long-awaited conference committee bill amending Chapter 334 of the Acts of 2016 (the adult use cannabis referendum) has been released.  Our complete summary of the new legislation and a comparison to the referendum’s original language can be viewed here:

Summary of Cannabis Legislation

Some big picture highlights:

(1) The referendum’s one year head start for many medical marijuana licensees has been eliminated. … More

Where is the Bill?

We are more than two weeks now since the passage of the House and Senate’s competing legislation overhauling the framework regulation and taxation of adult use cannabis adopted by Massachusetts voters in November. In general, the Senate hewed closer to the language and intent of the referendum, while the House repealed the voter-passed law in its entirety in favor of a total rewrite.  Then three legislators from each chamber were swiftly appointed to a conference committee to reconcile the two competing bills into final legislation.  … More

Registered Marijuana Dispensaries Becoming For-Profit Entities: A Strong Possibility

One of the most perplexing – and quite frankly for folks trying to make a buck in the medical cannabis space, frustrating – components of the regulatory framework for Massachusetts RMDs is that they must be not-for-profit corporations under Chapter 180 of General Laws. DPH has adopted guidance that is explicit: there can be no profit sharing between the not-for-profit licensee and for-profit related parties.

Now,… More

What a Difference a Chamber Makes: Comparison of the House and Senate Adult Use Marijuana Bills

The House and Senate have now formally introduced their competing bills overhauling the adult use cannabis law enacted by referendum by the Massachusetts voters. And what a difference a chamber makes! The House bill is almost 100 pages, repeals the entirety of both the medical use and adult use laws currently on the books, limits adult use entities to only one type of each license (retail, cultivator, and product manufacturer),… More

Joint Marijuana Committee Approves Sweeping Rewrite of Medical and Adult Use Laws

The Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy today voted to advance, over objection and disapproval, a bill that repeals the 2012 Medical Marijuana law and 2016 Adult Use laws in Massachusetts — both passed by referendum — in their entirety. Our summary of the major points can be viewed by clicking this link House Bill Summary.

In its place, a House Bill sent out of committee imposes many changes including a 28% tax rate (up from 12%) on adult use licensees;… More

Tobacco Wholesalers Ogle Marijuana Supply Chain

Tobacco wholesalers want to monopolize recreational marijuana distribution in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reported that the companies responsible for tracking, delivering, and taxing cigarettes sold in the Commonwealth are trying to insert themselves as a key player in recreational marijuana sales, once the market opens for business in 2018. Touting their experience with cigarette distribution, the wholesalers have been lobbying state officials to require that all marijuana producers sell through them.… More

Nevada and Massachusetts: A Tale of Two States

Nevada’s adult use referendum passed the same day as Massachusetts voters ushered in the Commonwealth’s adult use law. From there, the states took two very different paths.

Both states contain a “head start” for medical licensees to begin sales, as we’ve discussed here and here.

Well, wanting to keep its boot on the neck of the black and gray markets and begin collecting revenue,… More

Bans and Moratoria on the Rise in Massachusetts

Months before the first adult-use cannabis operators are eligible to apply for licenses, a significant number of cities and towns are passing (1) temporary moratoria on local zoning approvals of any such facilities; or (2) permanent outright bans.  According to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, 39 municipalities have thus far enacted temporary moratoria, while at least 10 have passed outright prohibitions.  “Dozens” more municipalities are expected to vote on such measures soon.… More

Watch: Massachusetts Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Laws and Regulation

Where We Are and Where We Are Going

With the passage of the 2016 referendum legalizing the adult use and regulated sale of cannabis and proposed critical changes to the referendum in Massachusetts pending now before the Legislature, the regulatory environment for cannabis is changing in Massachusetts.

Foley Hoag presented a webinar that examines the current Massachusetts regulatory framework for both medical and adult use operators, and what we can anticipate in the months ahead.… More

First Things First

The rewriting of the Massachusetts recreational marijuana law might be a two-step process. This week, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy announced that it may split its legislative recommendations across two separate bills so the legislature can tackle the most pressing issues without further delay. As Senate President Stanley Rosenberg explained, priority items (i.e., establishing the agencies and a regulatory structure) must be resolved as soon as possible. Less time-sensitive issues,… More

Say What? Sen Jehlen Wants to Eliminate the Medical Head Start.

Out of nowhere, Sen. Patricia Jehlen, chair of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, tells the Boston Globe that she wants to eliminate the one-year head start that the adult use referendum gives to experienced medical marijuana operators to apply for licenses. She tells the Globe:

But there are areas where Jehlen is keen to see the law changed. One is leveling the playing field, so medical marijuana companies don’t have what Jehlen called “an artificial leg up” in the retail market.… More

Upcoming Webinar: Massachusetts Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Laws and Regulation

Where We Are and Where We Are Going

With the passage of the 2016 referendum legalizing the adult use and regulated sale of cannabis and proposed critical changes to the referendum in Massachusetts pending now before the Legislature, the regulatory environment for cannabis is changing in Massachusetts.

Join us on Tuesday, May 9 for a webinar that will examine the current Massachusetts regulatory framework for both medical and adult use operators,… More

Marijuana taxes could bring in $64M in the first year

Earlier this March, officials from the Department of Revenue testified in front of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy, providing the first public estimate of the expected tax revenue from adult use marijuana sales. The numbers are significant. Massachusetts could expect between $45 million and $83 million in tax revenue during the first 12 months of the program. In the second year, tax revenues could rise to between $93 million and $172 million on sales ranging from $707 million to $1.312 billion.… More

Alcohol and Marijuana: A One-Stop Shop?

Liquor stores are moving to gain a foothold in the Commonwealth’s new cannabis market. Last month, the Massachusetts Package Store Association (MPSA) agreed to support members that will apply for licenses to sell recreational marijuana. The unanimous board vote by the MPSA, which represents hundreds of liquor stores in the state, reflects the growing interest among alcohol retailers to enter the billion-dollar local market. And coming from an industry that fears losing a hefty market share to recreational pot,… More

Westborough Says No to Marijuana Shops

Last week, Westborough became the first municipality in Massachusetts to opt out of the future recreational marijuana industry. The town’s residents, the majority of whom opposed the adult use referendum in November, voted 1,192 to 294, slamming the door on commercial cannabis establishments.

The statewide ballot initiative, which passed by a 54 percent majority, allows disinclined localities to exercise this type of local control. Under the new law,… More

Massachusetts Legislature To Rewrite Recreational Marijuana Law By May

Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker stated that Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana law must be rewritten before retail shops open in 2018. Baker identified four changes he expects to see: expanded local control, a cap on potency, child-safety regulations, and plant growing regulations that block black-market dealings. He stated that he wants a new bill by April or May.

Expanded local control would involve giving cities and towns greater latitude to decide what types of restrictions to place on the industry.… More

Legislative Committee Assignments Released for Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy

Senate President Stan Rosenberg named five Senators to the Legislature’s newly established Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy on Wednesday. The Joint Committee will be tasked with studying the raft of marijuana-related bills introduced this session – as discussed in our recent post here – and reporting out any favorable bills for votes.  It was expected that cannabis foe Sen. Jason Lewis would be named to the Committee and he was,… More

Massachusetts Legislators Introduce Bills to Curb Marijuana Industry

The Massachusetts legislature continues to chip away at Question 4, the ballot question that made marijuana legal for adult use throughout the Commonwealth. In December, a handful of lawmakers voted in an informal session to delay the start of retail sales. Now, new bills filed by Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Hannah Kane propose major changes to the law, including a reduction in the amount of marijuana adults can possess in their home.… More

Massachusetts Retail Marijuana Operations Delayed. Here’s a New Timeline:

In the final days of 2016, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill delaying the opening of retail marijuana operations in Massachusetts by six months, from January to July 2018. The way the House and the Senate approved the delay—without public notice, public hearing or discussion during a lightly attended informal joint session—has garnered criticism from legalization advocates. Members of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws stated the delay “flies in the face of the will of voters,” who approved the legalization of recreational marijuana by ballot question in November.… More

Summary of The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act

On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts voters passed Initiative Petition 15-37, The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.  The Act: legalizes the possession of one (1) ounce or fewer of marijuana for people age twenty-one (21) and older and the personal possession of ten (10) ounces and not more than twelve (12) plants cultivated in a person’s primary residence for personal use; establishes a Cannabis Control Commission with the authority to license,… More

What the Commonwealth’s “Newest” Industry Can Learn from Gaming

At a recent meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Chairman Stephen Crosby instructed staff to reach out to Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who is tasked with creating the entire regulatory infrastructure for the Commonwealth’s nascent recreational marijuana industry.  Chairman Crosby figured the Gaming Commission could provide insight as the regulator of the Commonwealth’s last “newest” industry.  Forgive me, but I hope the Treasurer does not take the call.  Gaming is not the example the Treasurer should follow.… More

Has Pre-Employment Testing for Marijuana Use Gone Up in Smoke in Massachusetts?

Since Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana, employers have wondered whether the new law would force them to change their drug testing practices. Currently, Massachusetts employers are allowed to conduct post-offer pre-employment drug tests on job applicants and lawfully refuse employment to those who test positive for marijuana use. But, if marijuana is now legal for medical purposes, can employers lawfully discriminate against employees who smoke marijuana to treat medical conditions?… More