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Legislature looks to gut pot law

Bills would cut allowed possession, place moratorium on infused products.

The marijuana law will see some changes if some lawmakers get their way.

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When Massachusetts voters legalized recreational marijuana in November, it sparked a war in the legislature, where some lawmakers are bent on limiting the sale, use and cultivation of the intoxicating plant.

Pro-pot advocates have accused lawmakers of trampling on the will of the voters as bill after bill — 37 to be exact — has been filed to scale back the legalization rollout.

One bill, filed by Sen. William Brownsberger, D-Belmont, on behalf of a constituent, seeks wholesale repeal of the referendum that legalized pot.

“What we are worried about is bills that would really eviscerate what was passed in November,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the Yes on 4 campaign that lobbied for legalization. “It goes completely against the will of the people. You can’t say you pledged to uphold the will of the people while at the same time filing bills that gut the very measure the people approved.”

The referendum to legalize retail pot sales and possession and growing the plant for adults over 21 passed by more than 53 percent of those who voted.

Among other things, the bills would:

  • Slash the amount of pot people over 21 can possess in their homes from 10 ounces to 2 ounces;
  • Cut the number of plants people could grow from 12 down to six per household;
  • Impose a two-year moratorium on the sale of marijuana-infused products at retail dispensaries;
  • Give regulators the power to outright ban any product other than the leafy plant matter itself.

In Colorado, where recreational pot was legalized in 2012, infusedproducts account for more than 50 percent of the market, state data shows.

Fourteen of these bills were filed by Sen. Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, a leader in the failed crusade to stop legalization, who has said the specifics should be left to the legislature to “responsibly, thoughtfully and safely implement a legal marijuana market in Massachusetts.”

The legislature has already successfully pushed back the opening of retail dispensaries and the establishment of a Cannabis Control Commission by six months, something Borghesani also opposes.

“Lewis is a prohibitionist and his bills are reflecting his position,” Borghesani said. “During the campaign, he opposed legalization just like he opposed med marijuana and just like he opposed the decriminalization of marijuana. Now he is doing his best to undo what voters approved overwhelmingly in November.”

 

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