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Massachusetts Towns Trying To Tax Medical Marijuana


grass photoAt least three towns have tried to impose a tax on sales of medical marijuana even before a single dispensary opens.

This year, Dennis, Fairhaven and Franklin all filed legislation to charge a local tax on medical marijuana in hopes of generating revenue to manage the “burden,” as one town official put it, of having a dispensary or pot-growing center in town.

The bills met an end in the Joint Committee on Revenue, chaired by Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, and Rep. Jay Kaufman, D-Lexington, where lawmakers decided to put all three on hold for further study.

Now, local proponents, including state Rep. Jeffrey Roy, D-Franklin, and Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, say they intend to return to the drawing board to craft legislation that has a shot at passing.

But doing so will prove difficult, as lawmakers said such a measure would likely require revisions to the state’s tax code.

The state Department of Public Health has not taken a position on taxing medical marijuana. Dispensary owners pay $50,000 per year to renew their licenses, while patients will drop $50 annually to maintain their prescriptions.
However, the state Department of Revenue has said that a municipality could charge a local sales tax as long as it receives approval from the Legislature. But it’s rare to see a city or town petition for specific taxes.

“Typically a local option to charge a tax is granted by the Legislature on a blanket or individual basis and the municipality then chooses to opt in or request permission – whatever is required — to charge a tax on a local basis,” said Maryann Merigan, a DOR spokeswoman.

Efforts to reach multiple lawmakers on the Revenue Committee to learn their reasons for killing the bills were unsuccessful.

While it has not reviewed the legislation filed so far, the Massachusetts Municipal Association has vowed to support the local effort to tax medical marijuana.

“We do strongly advocate to the state Legislature that the commonwealth should give great deference to requests made by municipalities for measures that would enable them to offset their cost, especially for state programs,” said the association’s executive director, Geoffrey Beckwith.

Beckwith pointed out that the dispensaries are nonprofit and so do not appear on the tax rolls. With that in mind, he said cities and towns should be granted the right to “negotiate payment in lieu of tax agreements or have a local revenue measure to offset the costs to monitor compliance.”

The legislation Franklin submitted would have authorized a 5-percent local sales tax. Town officials hoped to use the extra tax money to hire more police to patrol the area where a medical marijuana company plans to open a 70,000-square-foot growing center to supply dispensaries in Brookline and Northampton.


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11/23/2014 |

Winchester, Massachusetts Man Arrested For Selling Fake Vaporizers


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WL – Winchester police have arrested an alleged counterfeiter and seized hundreds of fake vaporizers from his Winchester home.

Anthony Christopher Marino, 54, was arrested Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of counterfeit trademark distribution and larceny by a single scheme.

Police, working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security agents, spent months investigating reports that a local man had registered several Internet domain names and was selling counterfeit vaporizers under the brand name Ploom, a California-based vaporizer manufacturer.

Vaporizers are electronic devices used to extract the active ingredients from plant materials, including tobacco and marijuana.

After tracking Marino’s alleged activities, including shipments and customers, and making controlled buys of counterfeit products, Winchester police served a search warrant on Marino’s home on Belknap Terrace and seized about 300 counterfeit vaporizers, which Marino was allegedly selling for about $200 each online.

Marino was released on bail. Police say more charges may be brought against him.

11/20/2014 |

Radio Host Challenges Governor Baker To Marijuana Vs. Beer Challenge


charlie baker beer 230x129 – Over the weekend, radio host and marijuana activist Mike Crawford (also known as Mike Cann) challenged Governor-elect Charlie Baker to a contest to demonstrate that marijuana is safer than alcohol. On his WEMF radio show The Young Jurks, Crawford said he could smoke one joint for every beer the politician could drink. Crawford said he was challenging Baker overhis recent comments to The Republican that he was against legalizing marijuana.

Crawford said that if Baker was able to drink more than he could smoke, he would donate $1,000 to charitable organizations of Baker’s choice. Crawford said that if he won, Baker would have to donate $1,000 toMassCann/NORML and the Massachusetts Patients Advocacy Alliance.

Crawford said that if Baker accepts his challenge, he will hold the contest outside the L Street Tavern in Boston, where Baker went to drink beer in celebration after winning the election. “We’ll do it on a Sunday. We’ll see who makes it to work on Monday,” he said.

Crawford said he expects to win if Baker accepts the challenge and will celebrate with a single beer afterward.

Crawford said the idea for the contest was inspired by David Boyer, a marijuana activist in Maine who made a similar challenge to a police chief who claimed the idea that marijuana is safer than alcohol is “bogus.”

Baker said he has smoked marijuana before during one of the gubernatorial debates, but has said a number of times that he is against legalizing it.

In an interview with the State House News Service, Baker was specifically asked if he thought “marijuana should be legal and regulated similar to alcohol.”

“No,” he responded. “Having heard from law enforcement, social service and education professionals, I oppose full legalization of marijuana because of the adverse impact it could have on children and families.”

More recently, he told The Republican “I’m going to oppose [legalization] and I’m going to oppose that vigorously… with a lot of help from a lot of other people in the addiction community,” adding that he thought using marijuana was a “significant first step” toward getting addicted to other drugs.

On Saturday’s episode of The Young Jurks, Crawford and his co-host Frank Capone mocked Baker for his opposition to marijuana legalization.

“He chooses to go on the side of reefer madness,” said Capone. “At the end of the day, is it maybe that it’s this sort of failed drug policy that pushes kids into the kind of world where those other drugs actually exist?”

“How about the fact that I can’t just go and get some weed? I have to go to a drug dealer that could possibly sell pills, or sell this, or sell anything else that I could be exposed to,” Capone said.

“Or they could rip you off or they could rob you,” Crawford added.

The two also mocked Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who recently said he hoped to team up with Charlie Baker to stop marijuana from being legalized.

“I hate to tell you, Mayor Marty Walsh, you’re not gonna be defeating anything. This is gonna be the third campaign that you are defeated,” said Crawford, referring to Walsh’s opposition to the medical marijuana and marijuana decriminalization laws that voters passed in recent years. “You’re a loser on this. You’re a multi-year loser.”

Massachusetts is one of a number of states expected to have marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2016 and recent polls suggest that the majority of voters support it. Furthermore, several non-binding questions about marijuana legalization all passed during the recent election.

The movement to legalize marijuana has scored a number of victories during the past few years. Four states and Washington, DC have passed laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use, a number which will almost certainly increase in 2016.

Frank Capone confirmed that Crawford has reached out directly to Charlie Baker’s campaign to ask if the politician will accept his challenge.

The Bay State Examiner has also contacted Baker’s campaign to ask if he plans to accept, but we have not heard back yet.

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11/18/2014 |

Boston Mayor Joins Governor In Fight Against 2016 Marijuana Legalization In MA


grass photoMassLive – Boston Mayor Walsh said he looks forward to teaming up with Gov.-elect Charlie Baker to defeat a likely marijuana legalization initiative in 2016.

“Absolutely,” Walsh said when asked if he would work with Baker to defeat marijuana legalization efforts.

On Monday Baker told Springfield Republican that he intends to “vigorously oppose” any marijuana legalization efforts as governor.

Baker, like Walsh, thinks the drug is a gateway drug to harder drugs.

“I just think it’s a slippery slope. I’ve spent a lot of time in my career working on issues around substance abuse and marijuana is a gateway drug and I am very clear in my opposition to it,” said Walsh while speaking with reporters outside the groundbreaking at One Seaport Square.

Walsh opposed the two most recent ballot campaigns that liberalized marijuana laws in Massachusetts.

In 2008 65 percent of voters approved the Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative that decriminalized marijuana possession of an ounce of marijuana to a misdemeanor offense with a $100 fine. The ballot initiative at the time was known as Question 2.

In 2012 63 percent of voters passed the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative that created the framework for medical marijuana dispensaries in the commonwealth. The first four medical marijuana dispensaries were recently approved for Boston, Fairhaven, Taunton and Greenfield.

When pressed on the state approval of the location of a dispensary in Boston Walsh said he was not taking a position on the matter.

“We have a process in place with the Zoning Board of Appeals and Inspectional Services if it goes there or not,” said Walsh.

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11/17/2014 |

New Mass. Governor Charlie Baker Is “Vigorously” Opposed To Pot Legalization


charlie baker marijuana – Gov.-elect Charlie Baker isn’t too high on the idea of legal marijuana, telling The Springfield Republican that he would stand against efforts to legalize and tax pot in Massachusetts.

“I’m going to oppose that and I’m going to oppose that vigorously,” he said, according to the paper. “There’s a ton of research out there at this point that says, especially for young people, it’s just plain bad,” he added.

Baker will be governor during the 2016 election cycle. That’s the year activistshave said they are targeting for a possible ballot initiative asking whether Massachusetts voters want to follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington state in 2012, and Oregon and Alaska just this month, in legalizing and taxing recreational pot. Polling has shown most of Massachusetts—and most of the country, for that matter—to favor legalization.

In a statement to, Baker spokesperson Tim Buckley reiterated that the upcoming governor opposes legalization, but suggested he would yield to a successful ballot initiative.

“The Governor-elect and numerous public safety officials have grave concerns about the harmful effects increased access to marijuana poses but he respects the ballot petition process and the will of the people,” Buckley said.

That mirrors comments from Baker last week, the day after he won the governorship, when he was asked by a reporter about the passage of earned sick time for Massachusetts workers on this year’s ballot, an initiative he had said he opposed prior to the election.

“I think we should implement the law,” he said. “I’m a big believer in the initiative petition process. … I believe in it, I support it, and the voters spoke (on Election Day) and made pretty clear where they were coming from on that. And I’m with them.”

Baker also said at that press conference that he hopes to get the process of opening medical marijuana dispensaries moving along. Medical marijuana was made legal in a 2012 ballot initiative, but the opening of dispensaries has been significantly delayed (though the first openings are expected this winter).

At one of the gubernatorial debates, Baker said he had smoked marijuana in the past. His opponent, Martha Coakley, said she had not.

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11/13/2014 |
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