Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday signed legislation revising some aspects of the voter-approved taxed-and-regulated cannabis industry, putting the adult-use rollout on track for July 1, 2018, according to an Associated Press report. The lawmaker-approved measure raises combined local and state taxes on products in the recreational marketplace from 12 to 20 percent. Medical cannabis sales will remain untaxed.
Additionally, the bill signed by Baker – who still opposes the law – sets strict packaging and advertising limits and provides directives for municipalities that wish to ban industry operations. Baker also indicated that he would provide additional resources to regulators if they need them. So far, Baker has included $2 million in the state budget for the five-member Cannabis Control Commission; lawmakers have approved another $300,000 to fund the program’s implementation.
Under state rules, current licensed operators will have the first crack at supplying and dispensing products under the adult use regime. Currently, there are 99 registered medical cannabis facilities and five farms. All interested individuals and businesses can begin applying in April, but current operators will be able to go through an expedited review process because they have already been vetted by the Health Department, the Boston Herald reports.
Sen. Patricia Jehlen said the expedited process will ensure “there’s going to be enough supply to serve the retail markets” as officials are hoping to avoid running low on product as was the case when Nevada began legal sales earlier this month.
The state Department of Revenue estimates legal cannabis sales could be worth $64 million in state revenues during their first year.
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