The BUNS Guide to Ballot Question 4

Legally grown marijuana in Colorado. Photo by Brett Levin / Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0
Written by Sarah Toy

By Sarah Toy
BU News Service

Massachusetts voters will decide this election whether their state will join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and D.C. in legalizing recreational marijuana. The proposed marijuana bill is 25 pages, so BU News Service has broken it down for you.

  • Individuals 21 or older would be able to purchase, possess, use, distribute, and cultivate marijuana in limited amounts. Users would be able to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana at a time. They would be able to grow up to six marijuana plants per person at home, with up to 12 plants per household.
  • Marijuana stores would be free to open across Massachusetts. In contrast to the medical marijuana law, which requires dispensaries to obtain local permission before getting a state license and setting up shop, marijuana stores would be allowed to open in every town unless local voters signed a petition for a specific ban.
  • Recreational marijuana would be subject to an excise tax of 3.75 percent, along with the regular 6.25 percent state sales tax. Cities and towns would be able to add an additional tax of up to 2 percent. This potential 12 percent tax would be significantly lower than most other states where marijuana is legal; in terms of excise tax, Washington is at 37 percent, Oregon at 25, and Colorado at 15. Alaska collects 50 dollars per ounce sold from a cultivation facility to a retailer. D.C. does not charge any excise tax on marijuana.
  • Marijuana products, including edibles, beverages, and ointments, would be labeled as such, with a symbol or other mark indicating its contents. Products would have clear indications for serving sizes to prevent marijuana over-ingestion. Products would be sold in childproof packaging.
  • A three-member Cannabis Control Commission, appointed by the state Treasurer and funded by the 3.75 percent excise tax, would administer the law governing marijuana use and distribution. They would also adopt regulations governing issues such as health and safety standards and advertising and displays.
  • The bill would have no effect on current laws and penalties regarding consuming marijuana while driving.

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Infographic: Sarah Burstein

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