Massachusetts voters set the state on a path to recreational marijuana sales in 2016. Now, after months of work and debate, sales are expected to begin in July.
What can you expect? Here are some answers to burning questions about the budding industry.
1. When will you be able to buy weed in a store?
Recreational marijuana dispensaries should be able to open for business in July, but the exact date is unknown.
So far, we don’t even know which stores will be allowed to sell to recreational customers.
When sales do begin, it is most likely to be at one or more of the medical marijuana dispensaries which are already operating. Those businesses were given priority in their applications and are most likely to have some product in stock when recreational sales begin.
2. What will weed cost?
Without any open stores, it is difficult to answer to this question. We do know that recreational pot will be subject to a total state tax of 17 percent and an additional tax of up to 3 percent imposed by municipalities.
For context, a medical marijuana dispensary in Boston is advertising several varieties at the price of $25 per 1/16 oz.
We do not know if demand could drive the base price higher when recreational sales begin.
3. Where can you have and use marijuana?
Adults, age 21 and older, are permitted to possess up to 1 ounce of pot in public places or 10 ounces at home. Adults can also grow up to six marijuana plants per person or 12 plants per home.
One possible exception is for renters, for whom landlords may prohibit smoking or growing marijuana.
Public consumption remains illegal.
4. Can I work in the marijuana business?
State regulations prohibit anyone with a record of felony convictions from being considered for a marijuana license or working in a recreational marijuana establishment. Lesser convictions or even ongoing cases can also be considered as a presumption of negative suitability by the Cannabis Control Commission.
5. How will I know the marijuana is safe?
Regulations require the establishment of independent testing laboratories and prohibits those companies from also possessing a retail license.
Products will be tested according to standards set by the Cannabis Control Commission and on a schedule created by the commission.
The rules also require the tracking and labeling of product batches to make mandatory recalls possible if something goes wrong.
WCVB has previously reported that heavy metals, yeast and mold are among the most common contaminants found on medical marijuana currently being sold in Massachusetts.
6. How will pot be packaged?
The Cannabis Control Commission’s regulations include these warning labels and logos that must be on every product. All marketing and advertising would be required to include the statement “Please Consume Responsibly.”
7. How did we get to this point?
Demonized by the federal government’s top narcotics official in the 1930s, who linked marijuana to gruesome, often racially-tinged crimes, marijuana’s path to legalization has been a long one. NewsCenter 5’s Ed Harding explores how we went from “Reefer Madness” to, nearly 100 years later, legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts and other states.