State House votes to approve marijuana law reforms

A committee will reconcile any differences between the House + Senate bills. | Photo by @emlymffe23

A committee will reconcile any differences between the House + Senate bills. | Photo by @emlymffe23

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The Massachusetts State House voted to approve major reforms to the state’s marijuana laws on Wednesday, with a 153-2 vote in favor of the bill.

This news comes at the same time as an announcement that total recreational cannabis sales in Massachusetts have surpassed $3 billion since the first retail stores opened in 2018.

What changes were approved by the House?

To name just a few changes, cities and towns would be allowed to:

  • Host marijuana cafés (which many Bostonians have been waiting years for).
  • Provide a portion of state cannabis tax revenue to equity applicants with small businesses.
  • Help former defendants to reevaluate old marijuana charges.

In short, the goal of these changes — which cannabis businesses + activists have been pushing for since marijuana became legal in 2016 — is to make the local cannabis industry more equitable.

What are the next steps?

For these bills to become reality, there will be a conference committee meeting + another round of votes from both the Senate and the House. Ultimately, a final draft will be sent to Gov. Baker, most likely sometime this summer.

Let’s talk about the Cannabis Control Commission.

To get into the weeds a bit more — this commission is in charge of implementing the laws that enable access to medical and recreational marijuana in the state. The commission has economic empowerment and social equity programs, though currently only 23 of the 253 marijuana companies in the state are owned by members of those programs.

As we wait for more updates on these reforms, we’ve got you covered with five local dispensaries to check out.