Legal Marijuana Sales to Begin in Massachusetts on Tuesday

Legal adult marijuana sales will begin in Massachusetts Tuesday, with retailers in Northampton and Leicester reportedly set to be the first to open.

The state is the seventh in the nation to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults.

Adults 21 and older with a valid ID will be able to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana from licensed marijuana retail stores, of which no more than five grams can be in concentrate form.

It will remain illegal to consume marijuana in public. Marijuana products sold for adult use will be subject to a 6.25 percent state sales tax and a 10.75 percent state excise tax, and municipal officials have the option of levying additional local taxes of up to 3 percent.

A study released in June by the Department of Public Health estimated adult marijuana sales would generate more than $200 million for the state and up to $3 million for local governments in the first two years alone.

“Marijuana prohibition is officially coming to an end in the Bay State,” said Marijuana Policy Project Deputy Director Matthew Schweich, who oversaw the successful Question 4 campaign in 2016. “It will not be missed. Voters in Massachusetts wanted a more sensible policy, new tax revenue, and safer communities, and that is what they are going to get.

“Finally, adults will be able to purchase marijuana safely and legally in regulated, taxpaying businesses instead of resorting to the underground market,” Schweich said. “Adults will simply stop at a licensed store, show their ID, pay, and be on their way. It won’t be long before the novelty wears off and it feels just like buying alcohol from a liquor store.”

Marijuana possession has been legal for adults 21 and older since Question 4 took effect on December 15, 2016. The initiative was approved by 53.7 percent of voters on November 8, 2016, and legislation to implement the initiative was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on July 28, 2017.

“Implementation took longer than expected, but the system is now up and running, and it appears to be on the right track,” Schweich said. “We applaud the many state and local officials who have taken part in the historic transition from prohibition to a regulated model. This is a living system that will grow and evolve over time, similarly to what we’ve seen with alcohol, and it can set an example for other states in the region and around the country. Massachusetts is firmly ahead of the curve on cannabis.”

Voters in nine states, including Massachusetts, have enacted laws to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adult use, and similar legislation was approved by lawmakers in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands and signed into law in September. Lawmakers in Vermont and voters in D.C. have adopted laws making marijuana possession and cultivation legal for adults, but not regulating commercial production or sales.

Regulated adult sales began in Colorado in January 2014; Washington in July 2014; Oregon in October 2015; Alaska in October 2016; Nevada in July 2017; and California in January 2018. In Maine, they are expected to begin in fall 2019. In Michigan, where the law was just adopted during the midterm election earlier this month, adult sales are expected to begin in 2020.

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