MA: Gov. Charlie Baker Seeks Medical, Recreational Marijuana Law Changes

Photo Credit: Colin Murphey

A $5.4 million spending bill filed by Gov. Charlie Baker late Friday would set aside $2 million for the Department of Public Health to run a public awareness campaign ahead of the start of retail marijuana sales in July, and make “minor amendments” to recreational and medical marijuana laws.

The supplemental budget also includes $3.4 million to fund a collective bargaining agreement ratified by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Baker, in a filing letter to the Legislature, said the bill includes “a number of minor amendments and corrections to the statutes regulating adult use marijuana and medical use marijuana in the Commonwealth.”

“The proposed sections are designed to clarify and simplify the administration of certain provisions of the marijuana laws, while continuing to adhere to the intent of the Massachusetts voters and the General Court,” Baker wrote, explaining that the changes were developed in consultation with the Cannabis Control Commission.

Among the tweaks to the legal marijuana law is language to clarify that edible marijuana products will not be exempt like other food from the sales tax and that all background checks required under the law shall include fingerprinting, to give communities more flexibility in how they allocate host community payments from pot retailers and to spell out a local initiative petition process for towns considering on-premise consumption of marijuana.

Another section of the bill would give the attorney general the authority to spend any money raised through assessments on hospitals or health plans for the purpose of reviewing the conversion or sale of a nonprofit hospital or health plan to a for-profit entity without further authorization from the Legislature.