Gov. Charlie Baker signed a measure on Friday delaying by six months the opening of marijuana retail dispensaries as pro-marijuana groups gatheredoutsidethe Massachusetts State House on Friday to protest the move.
The opening of the retail dispensaries was set to take place in January 2018, but that has now been pushed back.
Lawmakers proposed the bill earlier this week. It will not affect laws covering marijuana possession or growing it at home, both of which became on Dec. 15. But it will delay the openings of retail shops as well as the deadline for regulations fromthe Cannabis Control Commission.
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The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, an organization that has been operating since 1989 to end marijuana prohibition, forcefully objected to the governor's decistion. In a statement, it said it was "appalled at this arrogant and cowardly move, whose effect will be to give the black market another six-month monopoly." It added that the delay would deprive Massachusetts "of the considerable revenue that it might generate in taxes from January to July."
Coalition members and supporters were outside the State Houseon Friday protesting the bill and urging Baker not to sign it.
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"This bill, S2524, not only flies in the face of the will of the voters who voted for the January 2018 deadline, it shows contempt for the legislature itself," the coalition wrote online.
Baker and other officials did not support the legalization of marijuana and attempted to block the question from the state's ballot.
A spokeswoman for the governor said Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito have been clear they share "the Legislature’s desire to thoroughly prepare for launching an entirely new industry distributing a controlled substance and is committed to adhering to the will of the voters by implementing the new law as effectively and responsibly as possible,” according to a statement she gave to The Boston Globe.