By Bob Katzen
Several bills heard by the Committee on Cannabis were shipped off to a study committee where bills are never actually studied and are essentially defeated. It is another way to kill a bill instead of holding a vote on the bill itself.
Here are three bills filed by Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), the ranking Republican on the Cannabis Committee, that were sent to the study committee and are essentially dead. “I was disappointed that these bills were sent to study this session as I believe we missed an easy opportunity to strengthen public health protections for our young people and to close unintended loopholes,” said Kane. “I plan on filing each of these three bills again next session.”
MUST BE 21 TO ATTEND MARIJUANA-RELATED EVENT (H 3704) – Prohibits anyone under 21 from attending marijuana-related events, conferences, forums and exhibitions and imposes up to a $2,000 fine on event sponsors who violate this restriction. The bill exempts marijuana use prevention programs for youth, youth educational programs or substance misuse programs related to marijuana use.
“Numerous cannabis-related events, some with no minimum age of entry and others with an 18-years of age or older entry requirement, occur in Massachusetts every year, attracting thousands,” said Rep. Kane. “These events draw teenagers, young college students and parents who bring their children from all over the commonwealth and beyond. Given the proven harmful impact of marijuana use on the adolescent brain, as well as decreased perception of harm that advertising has on young people through the normalization of consumption, it is necessary to bring age of use and all efforts of promotion and marketing into alignment with current Massachusetts law.”
BAN MARIJUANA USE NEAR DAYCARE AND PLACES WHERE YOUTH CONGREGATE (H 3528) – Updates existing language to prohibit possession and consumption of marijuana near daycare centers and any facility where children commonly congregate. The amendment replaces current language in the law which is vague and bans the use near any youth center.
“[The bill] would tighten the existing law to ensure that marijuana and/or marijuana accessories are not possessed or consumed in proximity to any facility where children are most likely to congregate,” said Kane.
PROHIBIT DISCOUNTS (H 5326) – Prohibits recreational, non-medical marijuana retail shops from offering a “discount” to medical marijuana cardholders.
Supporters say there is a loophole in current law that allows marijuana establishments to offer discounts to medical marijuana cardholders, encouraging these individuals to buy marijuana from their establishment instead of the medical marijuana-approved establishments for which the cards are designed. Recreational marijuana is currently taxed while medical marijuana is not.
“The discounts generally involve discounting the price paid for [non-medical] marijuana by an amount equal to what the buyer will be required to pay in sales and excise tax, thereby negating the price difference between medical and recreational marijuana,” said Kane. “When the initial law was enacted, it was never imagined nor sanctioned that marijuana establishments would be able to entice medical marijuana users by offering these discounts.”