The state of Massachusetts is set to legalize recreational marijuana in July, but a new policy from the state's Attorney General means many people who want legal cannabis may not have access for a very long time.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that she's extending the deadline for cities to continue banning recreational marijuana without input from residents. While the state will legalize marijuana on July 1st, Healy's office gave cities the ability to institute temporary moratoriums on marijuana sales until the end of December in order to figure out what regulations they wanted to put in place. That deadline has now been extended until the end of June 2019.
There were two ways towns or cities could ban marijuana sales under the Massachusetts ballot initiative. If the majority residents of the town voted in favor of the initiative, then the city needed to hold a vote among the people on whether or not to ban cannabis sales. But if the majority of residents voted against the initiative, then the town's government could institute a ban without holding a vote.
Healy's extended deadline means that towns that instituted temporary bans on cannabis sales before they hold a public vote will be able to continue those bans for another six months. That means they'll get another six months where they won't have to hold a public vote, and continue disregarding the will of voters.
While some have defended Healy's decision as a means to ensuring that regulations are well-thought out, others say it simply delays the inevitable and means the legal cannabis industry in Massachusetts will begin slowly.
“This ruling has the potential to severely threaten Massachusetts’s job-creating, $2 billion cannabis industry, subverting state law and the will of the people who voted for legalization over 20 months ago,” the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association said in a statement. “Should it stand, municipalities will be given three times longer than [the seven months] the state’s cannabis commission had to develop its regulations.”
(h/t Boston Globe)