An agreement between House and Senate negotiators on changes to the state's voter-approved marijuana law will allow for a tax of up to 20 percent on retail pot sales.
Highlights of the deal were released Monday by the office of Sen. Patricia Jehlen, co-chair of a conference committee that spent several weeks trying to resolve differences between the two chambers.
“Seems like we can get the process moving forward,” legal marijuana advocate Jim Borghesani said.
The compromise language mostly splits the difference between a House proposal to raise the total tax on marijuana to 28 percent, and the Senate version of the bill which called for keeping the tax at a maximum of 12 percent.
“The Cannabis Control Commission is going to come to the legislature each year and make a tax recommendation so this can change. We’ve seen it change in other states,” Borghesani said.
Gov. Charlie Baker said the ability to raise or lower the rate is important.
“We’ve said all along we wanted to the tax rate to be high enough to cover the cost of administrating the program and enforcing the law," he said.
However, one change made by lawmakers has some local police officials concerned.
“Marijuana compromise bill increases access & availability of this drug to youth. Increased civil amounts for kids under 21 from 1 oz to 2oz.," Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael said in a tweet.
Lawmakers also compromised on the dispute over local control of pot shops. In cities and towns where voters backed the November ballot question, a referendum would be required to ban or restrict retail marijuana stores.
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