Tags Posts tagged with "Jim Borghesani"

Jim Borghesani

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With retail marijuana shops set to open next year in Massachusetts, supporters are worried that medical marijuana patients could be forced to pay inflated prices for the drug, possibly lose access to specialized preparations, or simply end up marginalized among the coming flood of recreational users.

To ensure medical marijuana lasts, proponents are lobbying for changes that include making it easier and cheaper to register as a patient, guaranteeing a steady supply of marijuana just for patients, and encouraging investment by allowing nonprofit medical dispensaries to convert to for-profit businesses.

A few even want the state to handicap the recreational pot sector with high taxes and tight local controls. That would make it tougher for dispensaries to convert en masse to recreational operations, as has happened in some other states that legalized marijuana.

“The idea is to change the cost-benefit analysis so folks with capital to invest will find medical viable,” said Daniel Delaney, a lobbyist for some of the state’s existing medical dispensaries. “If you make the recreational market wide open, people will go straight into that business and they won’t do the medical work. That will leave patients in a lurch.”

Delaney — whose opposition to the ballot initiative legalizing recreational pot made him highly controversial among advocates — wants taxes on marijuana sales increased to 25 percent, from the current maximum of 12 percent. Medical marijuana is currently not taxed. He also wants to make it easier for municipalities to ban recreational shops by allowing local elected officials to decide instead of putting the question to a communitywide vote.

Jim Borghesani, a leader of the 2016 legalization ballot initiative, said those proposals are nonstarters.

“We don’t want to see any patients find it more difficult to obtain medical marijuana,” Borghesani said. But high taxes and numerous local bans on recreational shops would “defeat the purpose of the initiative in the first place, which was to eliminate the illicit market.”

Though they expect some to migrate to recreational shops, advocates say there will remain many patients who require specialized marijuana treatments. Some — such as those with seizure disorders — consume “noneuphoric” strains or preparations of cannabis that have low levels of psychoactive THC. These products contain other cannabanoid compounds that may bring health benefits but don’t produce the sensation of being high.

Patients and their physicians are worried that shops oriented to recreational marijuana, where most customers are looking for a strong high, won’t bother with such products.

“I don’t really care where my patients get their medicine as long as it’s safe,” said Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Massachusetts physician who prescribes marijuana. “But in practicality, the problem is that they may go to a [recreational] store and simply not be able to find any products that fit the bill for them.”

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Lawmakers in Massachusetts went through a 6 month delay in the sale of cannabis for recreational use,saying they needed more time to dabble with a legalization measure that voters accepted in November.
According to a copy of the legislation posted online, House and Senate voted to push back the licensing of marijuana shops from January 1, 2018 til July 1, 2018. Personal use, possession, and cultivation became legal on December 15, making Massachusetts one of eight states in the country to take that step since voters in Washington and Colorado first approved the idea in 2012.

President-elect Donald Trump plans to leave this hanging after he is sworn in on January. 20. Marijuana still remains illegal at the federal level. Only by the Obama administration has the legalization occurred.
Democrat Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Massachusetts announced public health and safety are the reasons for the delay in sales. He said, “This short delay will allow the necessary time for the legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law.” Rosenberg stated, “Luckily, we are in a position where we can learn from the experiences of other states to implement the most responsible recreational marijuana law in the country.”

Legislation pushed back all deadlines in relation to retail sales, regulation, and taxes. A “cannabis control commission” that was to be appointed by March 1 is given a deadline to materialize by September 1.
Jim Borghesani (who ran the campaign to legalize cannabis in MA) said advocates learned of the legislation on Tuesday night. “We’re very disappointed with what they did and with the way they did it,” he stated. “We’re disappointed that they extended this awkward period we’re in now where possession is legal but sales are not.” Republican Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign the delay bill into law. Spokeswoman Lizzy Guyton said this will work with public health officials to put legalization into place.

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The great registered voters of Massachusetts want it in writing that recreational marijuana, which close to half the state’s adult residents hope will pass this November, will not be irrationally taxed. Voters will go over the issue on the ballot with Question 4, which suggests a 3.75 percent excise tax on retail recreational marijuana sales.

This would be evaluated on top of the state’s normal 6.25 percent sales tax, basically creating a 10 percent tax for consumers. This puts Massachusetts’ pot tax rates much lower than the majority of other legal states. For Example take Washington State with their 37 percent excise tax on marijuana sales or Oregon with 25 percent. Colorado imposes a 10 percent sales tax on various marijuana products, but that’s on top of the state’s standard 2.9 percent sales tax.

While some state governments are viewed as having gone over the top when it comes to putting a hefty tax on marijuana, many others are putting that money to good use in their neighborhoods. Proponents of Question 4, such as Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts, said that by keeping taxes relatively low, more customers will choose to buy marijuana from legal outlets rather than on the black market.

“We want the tax to be low enough to be able to fund the regulation and the administration of the initiative, but also to undercut the illicit market,” Borghesani told Boston.com.

Critics debate that the moderate tax structure won’t generate enough money to cover the regulatory and enforcement costs associated with legalization. Most of them are also against legalization, like State Senator Jason Lewis, a member of the anti-legalization group Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts.

Borghesani stated that opponents have a distorted view of the truth on what it would cost to fund the state’s Cannabis Control Commission.
Though it is probably safe to say it is always better to have each individual state figure out their own tax codes when it comes to pot sales.

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A ballot question on whether cannabis could be sold recreationally in Massachusetts cam show up on the November ballot, according to the Supreme Judicial Court in an opinion on Wednesday. But the court also decided that the title and one-sentence statement what a “yes” vote would entail weren’t exactly accurate. They left out the fact that an entire collection of “marijuana products” would be legalized. In addition, the court stated that it should be revised by the Attorney General and Secretary of State offices.

Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants specified that the title should be altered from “Marijuana Legalization,” to “Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana.” The summary should add that only people 21 or older would be able to have access to cannabis. The mentioning of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, was removed, and edible products were added in. Here is what the new bill reads:

“A YES VOTE would allow persons 21 and older to possess, use, and transfer marijuana and products containing marijuana concentrate (including edible products) and to cultivate marijuana, all in limited amounts, and would provide for the regulation and taxation of the commercial sale of marijuana and marijuana products.”

The issue was not such a big deal that the measure entirely should be removed from the November ballot, Gants added. Earlier this week, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the organization that put the ballot question forward, announced that they had collected more than double the amount of signatures needed to make sure that the question would make it onto the ballot. Campaign spokesman Jim Borghesani said that the title alteration ordered by the SJC “accurately reflects the intent of our initiative.”

“The Court issued a victory for the voters of Massachusetts today, assuring that their voices will be heard on the issue of legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana, an approach that is working in Colorado and other states and will work in Massachusetts,” Borghesani added.

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