Marco Verch

Massachusetts Legislative Leaders Hopeful for Cannabis Tax Compromise

In an interview with WGBH’s “Greater Boston,” Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo indicated that the House might be willing to compromise on the chamber’s proposed 28 percent sales tax on cannabis sales, according to a Greenfield Recorder report. The Senate had voted to keep the tax rate at 12 percent – the rate approved by voters in the original legislation.

DeLeo was joined on the program by Senate President Stanley Rosenberg who said that Sen. Patricia Jehlen and House Majority Leader Ron Mariano – who are heading up the six-member cannabis conference committee – would “negotiate” and “figure it out.” Rosenberg added that Jehlen’s primary concern is that if the tax rate is set at 29 percent, it would “seed the black market.”

“I suppose there could be some negotiation,” DeLeo said to Rosenberg during the broadcast.

The committee is working on a self-imposed Friday deadline, hoping to get a compromise bill to the desk of Gov. Charlie Baker so the new Cannabis Control Commission would have a full year to roll out the adult-use regime.

DeLeo also defended changes in the law that allow municipal officials to ban cannabis industry operations rather than a town or city-wide referendum. He said that allowing municipal lawmakers to make those decisions are “less expensive” and allows for quicker decision making. Rosenberg disagreed, pointing out that under the current scheme, voters in 39 communities have already taken steps to implement moratoriums or bans and another 120 communities are considering their own action.

DeLeo pulled the House recreational cannabis bill from consideration two weeks ago for a “clean up” after advocates said the proposal would raise cannabis taxes as high as 56 percent.

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