A Massachusetts legislator’s bill to legalize and tax cannabis in the Bay State was reviewed by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on Tuesday, with testimony from supporters lasting well into the evening. Although the bill received very little testimony in opposition, it is unlikely that the legislature will act on it this session, says the bill’s sponsor.
Representative Ellen Story (D-Amherst), sponsor of House Bill 1371, testified that revenue generated from legal marijuana sales could be a boost to the state coffers at a critical time when state agencies are facing severe budget cuts.
Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in 2008, with over 65% of votes in favor. Since then, criminal penalties for those caught possessing marijuana being replaced by a $100 civil fine, the equivalent of a parking ticket, but very few citations are written proportionately to the number of marijuana smokers in Massachusetts.
Legalizing marijuana would allow the state to generate much needed tax revenue for the cash-strapped Bay State by taxing all cannabis sales, instead of issuing a fine to those few that get caught.
“The state needs to make money,” Rep. Story testified. “This would allow the state to benefit from marijuana by regulating it.”
READ MORE: Marijuana Legalization Testimony Heard at Mass. State House
The Daily Chronic, March 7, 2012