Cannabis in America

Massachusetts Might Have to Wait a Little Longer for Legal Marijuana

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On Monday, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin signaled that his state’s recently passed recreational marijuana legalization ballot measure, Question 4, could miss its targeted implementation date of December 15. Massachusetts, and seven other states, passed some form of marijuana legalization measures on Election Day, with Bay State voters overwhelmingly in support of a recreational marijuana legalization framework.

The eight-member Governor’s Council needs to sign off on the ballot measure, which 1.7 million people (54 percent) voted for, before it can be implemented. Galvin said he expects the council’s votes to be tallied on December 14, and said it’s a “50-50 proposition” that the law will go into effect, meaning Massachusetts citizens 21 and over can legally possess and use small amounts of pot. Stores will be allowed to start selling marijuana on January 1, 2018, though that date might also get pushed back.

“All those tokers can hold their breath a little longer, but they’ll be able to exhale,” Galvin said, adding that if it’s not passed in two weeks, it will be at the beginning of next year. He said a later than usual election, and the results not being a lock until November 18 were the primary reasons for the potential delay. Confirming the presidential election results are his number one priority, he said, and the work put into that takes precedence over the marijuana measure. “No one is trying to delay the marijuana question deliberately,” he added. “It’s just the presidency of the United States is more important than legalizing marijuana.”

Michael Albano, one of the eight members of the Governor’s Council, told The Boston Globe that he would be surprised if the passed ballot measure does not go into effect on the targeted date. “We meet every week so if it’s not ready on the 30th, we’ll be there on December 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th,” he said. Home cultivation–of up to 12 marijuana plants–is also expected to start on December 15, though that too would be pushed back if the council delays the implementation.

Will Luzier, a lawyer and prominent backer of Question 4, told the Globe he is surprised that there could be a delay, saying: “I would hope that the secretary of state errs on the positive side of that 50-50, and that he and the Governor’s Council would be able to certify given the deadline date.”

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at



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