What a Difference a Chamber Makes: Comparison of the House and Senate Adult Use Marijuana Bills

The House and Senate have now formally introduced their competing bills overhauling the adult use cannabis law enacted by referendum by the Massachusetts voters. And what a difference a chamber makes! The House bill is almost 100 pages, repeals the entirety of both the medical use and adult use laws currently on the books, limits adult use entities to only one type of each license (retail, cultivator, and product manufacturer), imposes restrictions on investment and operation in multiple cannabis establishments, makes it far easier for cities and towns to prohibit marijuana businesses, creates a law enforcement arm of the Cannabis Control Commission to investigate any person or entity that holds more than 5% of the shares/units in a cannabis licensee; and includes a variety of other changes.

The Senate bill operates with a lighter touch and keeps in place much of the adult use referendum and current medical use frameworks, including preemption of the right of municipalities to prohibit marijuana businesses without a city- or town-wide referendum and a less demanding application process.

There is common ground.  Both bills: would eliminate the one-year “head start” for provisionally licensed medical marijuana applicants to apply for adult use licenses; create a streamlined application for such entities; create a five-member “independent” commission to regulate both the adult use and medical use industries; and allow medical marijuana entities and applicants (which currently must be incorporated as not-for-profit corporations under Chapter 180) to convert to for-profit businesses.

We have drafted a side-by-comparison of many of the most important elements of both bills, which can downloaded as this link:  House-Senate Cannabis Bill Comparison.

The House and Senate are expected to vote on their respective bills this week.  Assuming both bills pass their respective chambers, there will be a conference committee to negotiate a final version of the bill.  Legislative leaders are saying a final bill will be completed early next month.

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