Senate President Stan Rosenberg named five Senators to the Legislature’s newly established Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy on Wednesday. The Joint Committee will be tasked with studying the raft of marijuana-related bills introduced this session – as discussed in our recent post here – and reporting out any favorable bills for votes. It was expected that cannabis foe Sen. Jason Lewis would be named to the Committee and he was, but in the capacity of Vice Chair. Question 4 proponents should take some comfort Sen. Patricia Jehlen was named Chair of the Committee. Jehlen endorsed the referendum last fall, as did Sen. Jamie Eldridge, who also was named to the Committee yesterday. Rounding out the Committee from the Senate are Sens. Linda Dorcena Forry and James Welch, neither of whom took an official position on Question 4, but both of whom drafted a Senate Report sounding a cautionary note about the public health, public safety, and economic consequences of a regulated cannabis industry in the Commonwealth.
On Thursday, Rosenberg’s counterpart in the lower chamber, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, named Rep. Mark Cusack as House Chair of the Committee, with Question 4 supporter, Rep. David Rogers, as Vice Chair. Rep. Cusack took no public position on Question 4, telling State House News Service that he is “fully open minded on the issue.” DeLeo rounded out the Committee with Reps. Tackey Chan, Michael J. Finn, Aaron Vega, John Velis, RoseLee Vincent, Adrian Madaro, and Stephan Hay to the Committee. This group may raise the ire of the Question 4 supporters, who want to the leave referendum framework in tact with minimal interference. Reps. Chan, Finn, Velis, Vincent, and Hay formally opposed the a ballot question last November.