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56% Tax Proposal Has Marijuana Advocates Outraged

Marijuana advocates in the state of Massachusetts are outraged at the direction that the overhaul of marijuana legislation in the state has taken. Proponents of the plant are growing increasingly concerned as they face the possibility of marijuana being taxed at an obscenely high 56%.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said that lawmakers will not cast their votes on the bill on Thursday as initially expected, but did emphasize that a decision will be made soon. He hopes to get a final draft of the bill on Governor Charlie Baker’s desk by July. This essentially means that the proposed re-write of the voter-approved pot laws is a re-write in itself.

In November, voters cast their ballots in favor of recreational marijuana legalization, with the main intention being to cripple the black market supply of pot throughout Massachusetts. In the original language of the bill, it was stated that marijuana would be taxed at twelve percent.

Advocates of legalization say that the compounded taxes on these products are what create the 56% figure. There will be a 21.7% tax as the product moves from wholesaler to retailer, and an additional 28% tax from retailer to consumer.

The “Yes on 4” campaign had been instrumental in the backing of voter-approved recreational marijuana legalization, and spokesman Jim Borghesani criticized the re-write as “rapid and sloppy.” His issue with the added taxation on the legalized plant is the concern that this will push consumers back toward illicit methods of obtaining it. That is exactly the opposite of what the voters in Massachusetts wanted legalized marijuana for.

The bill cleared the committee with 10 votes from the House, but the chair of the Senate blasted the proposal, saying, “I would like to say this proposed bill directly assaults the will of the voters and is a prescription for increasing the illicit market.” Senator Patricia Jehlen claimed that she had less than eighteen hours to review the bill as it is currently drafted.

This proposed tax rate would be the highest in the country.

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