Marijuana Policy Project: Regulated Adult Marijuana Sales Expected to Begin in Massachusetts on Tuesday; Advocates Hopeful It Will Inspire Similar Policy Reforms in Rhode Island
* Statements below from the Marijuana Policy Project, a member of the Regulate Rhode Island coalition *
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.
Marijuana policy reform advocates say they are hopeful it will set an example for Rhode Island and other New England states, where lawmakers are expected to consider similar legislation next year.
“New England’s first regulated marijuana market for adults is now up and running in Massachusetts,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a member of the Regulate Rhode Island coalition. “It’s only a matter of time before more states in the region follow its lead. Rhode Islanders are ready to move forward with a similar system, and it’s time for Rhode Island's legislative leaders to allow a vote on the issue. If lawmakers continue to delay, the state will essentially forfeit significant economic opportunities to neighboring states like Massachusetts, including substantial tax revenue and good jobs."
An October poll commissioned by WPRI and Roger Williams Law School found likely Rhode Island voters in support of marijuana legalization by a 19-point margin, with 56 percent of respondents in favor and only 37 percent opposed.
In Massachusetts, 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 state 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, and it will not be missed,” said Schweich, who oversaw the successful Question 4 campaign in 2016. “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 in Massachusetts 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.
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.
Legal adult marijuana 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.
The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization. It has been a leading advocate for federal marijuana policy reform since its founding in 1995, and it has played a leading role in most major state-level reforms that have occurred over the past two decades. For more information, visit https://www.MPP.org.
In December of 2017, a big blown was dealt to rock fans everywhere with the passing of Smithereens founder and lead singer Pat DiNizio. While Smithereens fans were, and are, deeply saddened by Pat's passing they also overwhelmingly wanted the band to continue. Fast-forward to today, with the remaining original members of The Smithereens: Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken, and Mike Mesaros currently out on tour with singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw, who is sitting in as the band’s guest vocalist.
I caught up with the singer prior to the band's stop in Rhode Island
Tony Jones: What can folks who attend the upcoming gig expect, as far as material, is it strictly Smithereens tunes?
Marshall Crenshaw: Yes, Smithereens Only. I do my stuff at my shows; this is their show. It’s fun for me to play in their band..
Tony Jones: Your association with The Smithereens goes way back, tell us about that?
Marshall Crenshaw: I have known the guys since forever, played a little bit on their first album. At Pat’s memorial back in January it felt like a giant family-reunion. I sat in with the band for 3 songs that night; a little while after that they reached out to me about doing what we’re doing now.
Tony Jones: Are there any plans for you to record new music with The Smithereens?
Marshall Crenshaw: Not that I know of.
Tony Jones: What keeps bringing you back to touring?
Marshall Crenshaw: Playing music keeps my spirit intact. God knows what I would turn into if I stopped doing it. Maybe I will stop sometime but I’m not there yet.
Tony Jones: How do you prepare for a tour?
Marshall Crenshaw: I don’t always prepare, actually. Sometimes I just show up at the first gig and wing it from there..
Tony Jones: You and I both share a passion for independent radio, is there any chance that The Bottomless Pit will someday return to the airwaves?
Marshall Crenshaw: Ah, thanks for asking. The show went on hiatus in January so I could focus on a film production that I decided to attempt. Once I’ve completed that (unless I die trying), I’d like to do the show again, probably will.
Tony Jones: What advice would you give to new and up-and-coming bands and musicians?
Marshall Crenshaw: Be yourself.
The Smithereens tour hits Rhode Island on Saturday, November 17th at The Greenwich Odeum. Tickets are available at: http://www.greenwichodeum.com/
Donations to the Pat DiNizio Scholarship fund can made online at: http://www.countbasietheatre.org/commemorative-giving/ (Select “Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship” in the drop-down menu)
Tony Jones Show #202 - with music from: The Schemers, Josie Cotton, Evil Streaks, Russ Carrick, SexCoffee, Damone, Tony Jones & The Cretin 3, Koffin Kats, The Knock-Ups, Brunt of it, Candy Ambulance, The Safes, The Smithereens, The McGunks, Castle Black and, Flogging Molly
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