MJ Dispensary Among State Senators’ Stops in Colo.
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MJ Dispensary Among State Senators’ Stops in Colo.
Posted by CN Staff on January 11, 2016 at 08:02:25 PT
By Joshua Miller, Globe Staff
Source: Boston Globe
Denver -- Eight state senators are flying into Colorado this week for a primer on life in a state that has already legalized marijuana, in case Massachusetts voters follow suit this November and lawmakers have to decide quickly how to respond.They’re poised to see a cultivation facility, tour a marijuana dispensary, and pepper top state, municipal, and law-enforcement officials with questions about the implementation of the voter-approved law. The four-day trip is being arranged and paid for by the New York-based Milbank Memorial Fund, which describes itself as a nonpartisan health policy foundation.
While lawmakers regularly travel to educate themselves about issues of public import, the context for the Colorado trip makes it unusual: Beacon Hill leaders have made clear there is not the political interest or will to pass a legalization bill, but they have floated the idea of tinkering with a legalization law, if it garners sufficient signatures to make the statewide ballot and if voters approve it.Senator Jason M. Lewis, chairman of the special Senate committee on marijuana and leader of the trip, said if voters greenlight the proposal, the Legislature might want to pass laws to address issues the referendum doesn’t substantively address — such as drugged driving — and might also want to change the law itself.“There may also be particular provisions in the ballot question where lawmakers have concerns,” he said, “and may want to at least debate a different approach.”“What we’re contemplating here is a major change in social policy for Massachusetts,” Lewis, a Winchester Democrat, said, ticking through ramifications on public health, public safety, and the creation of a new industry. But, he said, he wouldn’t characterize any adjustments lawmakers might make as undoing the will of the voters, but rather focused on “the details” of how the state moves forward with legalization.In 2012, voters approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but the state’s rollout of that law was disastrous and a dispensary did not actually open for patients until June 2015. Lewis said it’s important to gather as much information as possible for lawmakers and regulators in hopes that, should marijuana be legalized for recreational use, the implementation will be smoother.While a bill to legalize marijuana was put forward by lawmakers who say they would prefer a deliberative process rather than a referendum vote, it is unlikely to go anywhere in the House or Senate.House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Governor Charlie Baker both oppose the legalization of marijuana. Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg has not publicly endorsed or opposed legalization.But the speaker has floated the prospect of adjusting the law, should it pass.“If there were some problems [with] the way it was written, I wouldn’t hesitate, probably, to have the Legislature take a second look and make any necessary changes that we felt had to be made,” DeLeo said in March.While lawmakers are often reticent to adjust or undo a law passed by a popular vote, there are precedents.In 2000, voters passed a ballot initiative knocking the state income tax rate down from 5.85 percent to 5 percent in steps. The first ticks downward took place at the beginning of 2001 and 2002. But then the Legislature, facing difficult economic times, froze the final tax cut and set up a much slower diminution — so slow, in fact, the tax rate still hasn’t reached 5 percent. It’s 5.1 percent as of Jan. 1.Analysts say there is an inherent tension in adjusting ballot questions.Jeffrey M. Berry, a Tufts University political science professor, said “legislators have to be very careful to not appear to overturn the will of the people.” So if they pass legislation changing a ballot measure, “it really needs to appear to be fine-tuning existing law rather than overriding the policy.”Still, Berry said lawmakers taking a trip to Colorado is a “good idea.” Just as businesses seek best practices from other companies, he argued, so too should lawmakers look to other states for ways make the best public policy.Legalization advocates in Massachusetts have met the first and most arduous signature-gathering hurdle and are expected to clear the other obstacles to putting a measure on the ballot in November that would legalize recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older.The proposed law from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts would create a new “Cannabis Control Commission,” with members appointed by the state treasurer to oversee a system of marijuana stores, grow facilities, and manufacturers of edible products like brownies.The measure would impose a 3.75 percent excise tax on retail marijuana sales, in addition to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax — and it would also allow cities and towns to levy an additional 2 percent tax that the municipalities could keep. It would also allow adults to grow up to six marijuana plants in their home, would give a leg up to medical marijuana dispensaries that want to become retail stores, and set a January 2018 time frame for when retail sales could commence.A spokesman for the legalization campaign, Jim Borghesani, said his group is “very pleased” that legislators are headed to Colorado to find the facts on the ground. He said the rollout in Colorado, one of four states and the District of Columbia where voters have decided to legalize marijuana, has, for the most part, been successful.Borghesani said the campaign anticipates that any changes legislators might make to a successful ballot measure would be “modest and nondramatic.”But, he warned, “If they reverse the will of the voters, it would be damaging.”According to the committee, the lawmakers set to participate in the trip are Lewis; John F. Keenan, a Quincy Democrat; Linda Dorcena Forry, Democrat of Dorchester; Richard J. Ross, a Wrentham Republican; James T. Welch, a West Springfield Democrat; Michael O. Moore, a Millbury Democrat; Viriato M. deMacedo, a Plymouth Republican; and Michael J. Rodrigues, a Westport Democrat.Judith Zimmer, a spokeswoman for the Milbank Memorial Fund, which is paying for travel, hotel accommodations, and meals, said the fund usually doesn’t know the cost of a trip until it’s over.But, she said, “In Colorado, four nights at the hotel will come to $580 per person. Airfares range from $300 to $700.”In a statement, Christopher F. Koller, president of the fund, said the nonprofit and its board have no involvement for or against legalization but rather are committed to strengthening “the ability of state leaders to make good health policy.”Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Joshua Miller, Globe Staff Published: January 11, 2016Copyright: 2016 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on January 12, 2016 at 21:21:33 PT
Still thinking 'bout that news in comment #2
One of the (false) claims cannabis prohibitionists make, to oppose legalizing cannabis for sick citizens is that it is a hoax.Now, with 80% of therapeutic cannabis users substituting it in place of prescription drugs, there is evidence that in fact it not only isn't a hoax, but the plant works well enough to skip pills altogether.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on January 12, 2016 at 06:37:51 PT
Here's one
Big Pharma Shaking in Their Boots as 80% of Cannabis Users Give Up Prescriptions Pills for PotA survey of 473 adult therapeutic cannabis users found that 87% of respondents gave up prescription medications, alcohol, or other drugs in favor of cannabis."...The survey of 473 adult therapeutic cannabis users found that 87% of respondents gave up prescription medications, alcohol, or other drugs in favor of cannabis. Adults under 40 were likely to give up all three of these for medical cannabis.The most startling revelation, and one that will have Big Pharma running to their crony lawmakers, is that 80% of respondents reported substituting cannabis for prescription drugs.In addition, 52% said they substituted cannabis for alcohol and 32% said they substituted it for illicit substances. These results indicate a very promising trend of people moving away from dangerously addictive and deadly substances in favor of a miracle plant that has never caused an overdose death..."-0-THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STAT: "32% said they substituted it for illicit substances"THINK ABOUT THAT! When cops and anti-cannabis groups spout, THEY IN EFFECT ARE INCREASING HARD DRUG USE!!!Cannabis prohibitionists are harming America!-0-Cannabis prohibition causes increased hard drug addiction rates and pharm drug addiction rates (including overdose deaths). -and this is just another (and current) piece to help illustrate that fact.We already suspect and realize booze and pharm interests oppose RE-legalizing cannabis (with proof). More and more, those industries are faced with how to deal with cannabis.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on January 11, 2016 at 15:30:54 PT
Send the scouts
Many different states send scouts to Colorado. Great place to visit anyway..."Hawaii lawmakers attending a recent legislative conference in Colorado visited Vail's Green Mile and took great interest in that state's legalization of retail marijuana sales."US HI: Column: Like It or Not, Legalizing Pot Could Be Boon For Local AG're mostly bums; they don't want to RE-legalize the God-given plant, BUT JUST IN CASE they're FORCED to regulate it...
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