Cannabis in Massachusetts

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Question 4 (2016) results by town. Towns with a majority of "yes" votes in green and towns with a majority of "no" votes in red.
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)

Cannabis in Massachusetts relates to the legal and cultural events surrounding the use of cannabis. In 2016, Massachusetts voters elected to legalize recreational cannabis.[1]

In 2008 Massachusetts voters decriminalized[2] the possession of small amounts of marijuana.[3] Massachusetts became the eighteenth state to legalize medical marijuana when voters passed a ballot in 2012,[4] even though the federal government still lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance with no medical value. Recreational marijuana is legal in Massachusetts as of December 15, 2016, following a ballot initiative in November of that year.[5]

As of 2010 almost 10% of Massachusetts residents over the age of 12 had used marijuana in the past month, and almost 16% had used marijuana within the past year.[6] The largest event for the support of the legalization of marijuana, the Boston Freedom Rally, takes place annually in September. People come from surrounding areas to attend this rally[7]

Legality[edit]

Restriction[edit]

In 1911 (some sources state 1914[8]) Massachusetts became the first state to restrict cannabis on a state level, prohibiting the sale of "Indian hemp" without a prescription.[9]

Decriminalization[edit]

On November 4, 2008, Massachusetts voters passed a ballot that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.[3] The Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative made the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana punishable by a fine of $100 without the possessor being reported to the state’s criminal history board.[10] Minors also had to notify their parents, take a drug awareness program, and complete 10 hours of community service. Before decriminalization, people charged faced up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.[11]

The proponents of the change argued that:[12]

  • The change would keep the existing policies regarding growing, trafficking, and driving under the influence of the drug, while protecting those caught from a tainted criminal record
  • Massachusetts could save $130 million each year
  • Convictions of less than one ounce have been shown to have little or no impact on drug use

The opponents argued that the decriminalization would:[3]

  • Promote use of the drug and protect dealers
  • Increase violence
  • Create hazardous workplaces
  • Increase car crashes

The law went into effect January 2009.[11]

Medical marijuana[edit]

On November 6, 2012, 63% of Massachusetts voters approved Question 3, the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative.[13] The law took effect on January 1, 2013, eliminating criminal and civil penalties for the possessions and use of up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for patients possessing a state issued registration card. With a recommendation by a physician, patients with cancer, glaucoma, and other medical conditions can receive a registration card. The law allows for 35 state-licensed non-profit dispensaries. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has until May 1, 2013 to issue further regulations. Marijuana dispensaries will not be able to open until after the regulations have been set.[14] The Massachusetts Medical Society opposes the bill, saying there is no scientific proof that marijuana is safe and effective.[13] After the law passed, towns attempted to ban dispensaries. Attorney General Martha M. Coakley ruled that cities and towns cannot ban dispensaries, and can only regulate them. Complete bans would conflict with the law.[15]

Non-medical cannabis[edit]

In the November 8, 2016 election, Massachusetts voters passed a ballot initiative making recreational cannabis legal in the state.[5] Governor Charles Baker signed legislation on 30 December 2016 extending the start date for recreational pot sales by six months, to July 2018. Some communities have since applied to the State Attorney General to delay sales. A partial list of applicants includes West Bridgewater, Ashland and zoning restrictions in Westborough, Massachusetts. [16]

Taxation[edit]

In July of 2018, retail selling of marijuana is due to start in the state and the tax rate calls for a 3.75 percent tax on the marijuana, a 6.25 percent state sales tax, and a 2 percent local option tax for a total 12 percent on purchases.[17]

Public opinion[edit]

Public opinion on the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts
Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size
Margin of
error
 % support  % opposition  % Undecided/Don't Know
Western New England University October 23–November 2, 2016 417 LV ± 4.5% 61% 34% 5%
Suffolk University/The Boston Globe October 24–26, 2016 500 LV ± 4.4% 48.8% 42.4% 8.8%
WBUR/MassINC Polling Group October 13–16, 2016 502 LV ± 4.4% 55% 40% 5%
Western New England University September 24–October 3, 2016 403 LV ± 5.0% 52% 42% 6%
467 RV ± 5.0% 55% 39% 6%
WBZ/UMass Amherst September 15–20, 2016 700 LV ± 4.3% 53% 40% 7%
800 RV ± 4.1% 51% 40% 9%
WBUR/MassINC Polling Group September 7–10, 2016 506 LV ± 4.4% 50% 45% 5%
Gravis Marketing/Jobs First July 12–13, 2016 901 RV ± 3.3% 41% 51% 9%
Suffolk University/The Boston Globe May 2–5, 2016 500 LV ± 4.4% 43.0% 45.8% 11%
Western New England University [1] April 1–10, 2016 497 RV ± 4% 57% 35% 7%
UMass Amherst/WBZ February 19–25, 2016 891 RV ± 4.1% 53% 40% 7%
Emerson College October 16–18, 2015 629 RV ± 3.9% 40.5% 47.6% 11.9%
The Boston Globe June 22–24/June 29-July 1, 2014 601 LV ± 4% 48% 47% 5%
WBUR/MassINC Polling Group May 16–18, 2014 504 LV ± 4.4% 49% 42% 9%
WBUR/MassINC Polling Group March 14–16, 2014 500 LV ± 4.4% 48% 41% 10%
Boston Herald/Suffolk University January 29-February 3, 2014 600 LV ± 4.0% 53.17% 37.17% 9.67%
Western New England University November 5-November 11, 2013 467 RV ± 4.5% 39% 52% 9%

Culture[edit]

Usage[edit]

Marijuana is the most common illegal drug used in the United States. A 2007 survey showed that over 100 million US citizens over the age of 12 have used marijuana. More teenagers are current users of marijuana than cigarettes.[18] The following chart shows percentages of Massachusetts’ population’s marijuana usage using data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration based on surveys from 2010 and 2011.[6]

Ages 12+ 12-17 18-25 26+
Past Year 15.89 18.31 42.33 10.98
Past Month 9.96 11.32 28.42 6.56

Cultivation[edit]

Assessing the total cultivation of marijuana in the United States was difficult, and even more difficult by a statewide basis due to the illegality of the drug. In the ballot of 2016, growing and cultivating the plant was legalized. In 2006 it was estimated that there was 22 million pounds of domestic crop. Including the imported crop from Mexico and Canada, Dr. Jon Gettman estimates there is approximately $100 billion worth of crop available in the United States.[19] Gettman’s study, Marijuana Production in the United States, shows that Massachusetts ranks 44th marijuana cultivation by state, producing 12,700 lbs. of marijuana worth $20 million.[20]

Events[edit]

2008 Freedom Rally in Boston

The Boston Freedom Rally is an annual event on the third Saturday in September. It is the second largest annual gathering demanding marijuana law reform in the United States. The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition organizes the event. The event began in 1989, and has been held on the Boston Common since 1992. The city of Boston has tried to stop the event, but has been unable to do so.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miller, Joshua (8 November 2016). "Mass. voters say ‘yes’ to legalizing marijuana". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  2. ^ "Marijuana Laws Massachusetts". 
  3. ^ a b c Abel, David (November 4, 2008). "Mass. voters OK decriminalization of marijuana". Boston.com. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ Altieri, Erik (November 6, 2012). "Massachusetts Becomes 18th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana". NORML. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "2010-2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Model-Based Estimates" (PDF). Table 2 and 3. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Mass Cann". MASS CANN. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  7. ^ Ronald Hamowy (1 January 2008). Government and Public Health in America. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 234–. ISBN 978-1-84720-425-7. 
  8. ^ Dale H. Gieringer; Ed Rosenthal; Gregory T. Carter (2008). Marijuana Medical Handbook: Practical Guide to Therapeutic Uses of Marijuana. Quick American. pp. 117–. ISBN 978-0-932551-86-3. 
  9. ^ "Marijuana Laws Massachusetts". 
  10. ^ a b "General Laws". 188th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  11. ^ Crimaldi, Laura (January 27, 2008). "Marijuana measures head to voters". Boston Herald. 
  12. ^ a b "Medical marijuana law passes in Massachusetts". CBS News. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Massachusetts Medical Marijuana". NORML. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ Stilts, Josh (March 15, 2013). "Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensaries may open this summer". The Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/south/2017/01/24/west-bridgewater-gets-state-first-pot-moratorium/KCYkpw2NXlRcJY2lY6179L/story.html
  16. ^ Miller, Joshua (2017-04-20). "Marijuana panel chair’s goal: kill black market — fast". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  17. ^ "Drug Facts: Marijuana". National Institute on Drug Abuse. December 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Marijuana Economics 101". PBS. July 26, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  19. ^ Gettmann, John. "Marijuana Production in the United States (2006)" (PDF). Appendix 3a. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 

External links[edit]