marijuana leafIn February of 2015, the Boston Ethical Community hosted a panel discussion featuring members of the Cannabis Society of Massachusetts. On March 19, the Cannabis Society returns to BEC to present a talk entitled High Ground.

Much has transpired since the  2015 session. Marijuana advocates were then primarily concerned with medical marijuana. The panel discussed difficulties that caregivers faced in growing and administering marijuana as therapy for a variety of medical conditions. At that time, no medical marijuana dispensaries in the state had yet gained approval to sell the product.

In June of 2015, a dispensary in Salem became the first to go into full service. Since then,  eight other outlets across the state have opened. Still, patients have reported difficulty finding doctors to prescribe the drug, and the costs are steep.

The far bigger change since 2015 is the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana. In November of 2016, Massachusetts voters approved a referendum to legalize recreational pot by a margin of 54% to 46%. The referendum passed despite opposition from Governor Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey, and numerous other prominent figures in politics and law enforcement.

The law passed by the voters allows persons 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of pot in public and up to 10 ounces in the home. A person of legal age can grow six plants, with a maximum of 12 plants per household. (It is legal for a landlord to put the kibosh on the cultivation of pot by tenants.)

But the law we voted on may not be the law that we get. In January, State Senator Jason Lewis filed a bill that would dial back some of the provisions in the original legislation. The proposed bill would limit the amount of pot a person could possess in the home to two ounces instead of 10, and lower the number of plants per household to just six.

Furthermore, Lewis’s bill would provide for the delay of the sale of edible and marijuana-infused products by two years.

And what is perhaps the most controversial provision in the proposed revision of the law is the empowerment of municipal officials to ban sales of marijuana in their community without the consent of voters.

The Lewis bill will not be uncontested. Senator Patricia Jehlen will be the chair of the Committee on Marijuana Policy, and she supported the ballot measure.

The discussion on March 19 should be lively and engaging. We are pleased to welcome the Cannabis Society once again.