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 Brian Falk

 Steve Madaus

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July 28, 2017
Governor Signs Marijuana Law Rewrite
Earlier today, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill ( available here ) amending the voter-approved Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, imposing significant changes to the way municipalities may regulate, or prohibit, recreational marijuana establishments.
Among the changes to the Marijuana Act:
Prohibiting / Regulating Marijuana Establishments:
  • Communities that voted 'Yes' on Question 4 in November of 2016 may prohibit one or all types of recreational marijuana establishments by local referendum.

  • Communities that voted 'No' on Question 4 may prohibit one or all types of recreational marijuana establishments by town meeting or city council vote only, up until December 31, 2019.

  • In lieu of a full or partial ban, communities may still adopt bylaws or ordinances imposing reasonable regulations on the time, place and manner of marijuana establishment operations.

  • The new Marijuana Act clarifies that zoning provisions may not prevent a medical marijuana establishment licensed as of July 1, 2017 from converting to a recreational facility.

Local Referenda:
  • The Marijuana Act now provides a form of ballot question for the local referendum seeking to prohibit recreational marijuana establishments, and provides authorization to place such a question on a regular or special election ballot.

  • Municipal acts regulating or prohibiting recreational or medical marijuana establishments prior to July 1, 2017 are not affected by the new Marijuana Act.
Host Agreements:
  • Recreational and medical marijuana establishments must enter a Host Community Agreement with the municipality.

  • Impact fees under a Host Community Agreement are capped at 3% of the facility's gross sales and are effective for no longer than 5 years.
Local Sales Tax:
  • Municipalities may, by local option, adopt a local sales tax on recreational marijuana establishments of up to 3% of sales (increased from 2%).
Cannabis Control Commission:
  • The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) expands to a 5-member body, with consolidated regulatory powers over both recreational and medical marijuana establishments.

Key Dates:
  • All deadlines in the Marijuana Act, previously revised, remain the same:

    • March 15, 2018: deadline for CCC's regulations.
    • April 1, 2018: deadline for CCC to begin accepting marijuana license applications.
    • July 1, 2018: CCC may begin issuing marijuana establishment licenses.
In the coming weeks, we will provide more comprehensive guidance to our public sector clients on this topic.

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This client alert is intended to inform you of developments in the law and to provide information of general interest.  It is not intended to constitute legal advice regarding a client's specific legal issues and should not be relied upon as such.  This client alert may be considered advertising under the rules of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.