Highlights of MPP’s Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative (MA-CRMLA)


We’ve examined the amended Sean Parker Adult Use of Marijuana California legalization initiative and we’ve covered the Marijuana Policy Project’s (MPP) Nevada marijuana legalization initiative, marketed under the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) and on the ballot for 2016 in Nevada. We’ve tackled the MPP initiative for Arizona, also known as CRMLA.

Today we dig into the MPP’s Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, another CRMLA. The complete text with hyperlinks and my notations is available as a PDF download. Here are the highlights:

Personal Possession and Cultivation: Adults 21 and older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public, up to 5 grams of that may be concentrate, and up to ten ounces at home, but it must be locked up. Edibles and liquids can have up to an ounce of marijuana in them, rather than being limited by weight or volume. Adults can cultivate 6 plants each with a max of 12 per household and possess the results of the harvest. Marijuana and cannabis plants must remain out of public view.

Illegal Acts: Cultivation in public view is a $300 civil fine. Leaving marijuana unlocked at home or smoking in public or where there are no smoking signs is a $100 fine. Open containers of marijuana in a vehicle are subject to a civil fine of $500, unless they’re in the trunk or locked glove compartment. Possessing or cultivating over the legal limit but under twice the legal limit is a $100 fine and forfeiture of the excess. People under 21 trying to access marijuana is a $100 fine with a mandatory drug awareness program.

Consumer Rights: Landlords can ban tenants from cultivating and smoking marijuana on their properties. Employers can still ban pot smoking at work. Parental custody and visitation rights and necessary medical procedures, like organ transplants, cannot be denied solely for marijuana use.

Marijuana Regulation: There will be a Cannabis Control Commission that regulates all marijuana in the state. It is directed specifically to encourage industry participation for people of color. The CCC can create new licenses, such as pot lounge licensing, special event licensing, and research licensing, and can also restrict advertising.

Retail Shops: Marijuana will be taxed at 3.75 percent at the point of sale, plus a potential 2 percent local tax, but these taxes do not apply to medical marijuana. Medical dispensaries and commercial retail shops can co-locate. Local residents can petition for the right to establish pot lounges. There will be a maximum of 75 retail shops until October 2018.

Commercial Licenses: Licenses will cost a $3,000 non-refundable application fee, plus $15,000 for a Cultivator, Manufacturer, or Retailer license or $10,000 for a Tester license. Licensees must meet the standards required for an alcohol licensee, except that a marijuana conviction won’t bar licensure. CCC can institute an absolute cap on marijuana cultivation statewide. There will be a maximum of 75 manufacturers until October 2018 and a max of 75 cultivators until October 2019. Licensees must be 500 feet from schools.

Medical Marijuana: Existing medical marijuana businesses get priority in licensing, but that preference ends in 2018. If the CCC hasn’t provided for commercial retail by 2018, the existing medical marijuana dispensaries can serve all adults until they do.

Local Control: Localities can regulate time, place, and manner no more restrictively than medical marijuana is regulated. Localities can limit the number of establishments, but complete bans or limits below 20 percent of off-site alcohol sales licenses or limits below the number of medical marijuana establishments must be approved by voters. Localities can establish nuisance ordinances to restrict cultivation and to restrict signage.

With its low taxes, expansive protection of consumer rights, aim of improving communities hardest hit by prohibition enforcement, protection of commercial licensing, including the possibility of pot lounges, the Massachusetts version of CRMLA is the best of the three initiatives written by MPP for the 2016 election.

Russ Belville

"Radical" Russ Belville is a blogger, podcaster, and host of The Russ Belville Show, a daily two-hour talk radio show fo