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April 10, 2019

Lawmakers propose bill to curb illegal cannabis sales

Photo | Courtesy Sen. Michael Moore of Millbury joined other state officials at the State House to announce a proposed law to curb illegal marijuana sales.

Two Central Massachusetts lawmakers are proposing legislation aimed to curb illegal and unregulated cannabis sales that have reportedly thrived due to the high prices of licensed and legal cannabis operators. 

Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) and Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) announced the legislation in a joint press release. 

The bill would establish the Multi-Agency Illicit Marijuana Task Force mirroring a state task force to curb illegal tobacco sales. The goal is to maximize legal market participation, increase tax revenues and improve public health and safety.

The task force will be co-chaired by the colonel of the Massachusetts State Police and the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Other members include representatives from the Cannabis Control Commission, Department of Public Health, Attorney General’s Office, the state Treasurer’s Office, the commissioner of agriculture and two municipal police chiefs appointed by the governor.

When complaints are issued to the task force and an illegal marijuana operation is found, the Department of Revenue will issue a tax assessment to the illegal operator for the total estimated forgone tax revenue estimated by the illegal products allegedly sold, but that tax will be based off of the medial sales price of all equivalent products sold by licensed businesses.

Tax assessments collected would be deposited into the CCC’s Marijuana Regulation Fund and earmarked for municipal and state police training, youth prevention programming and early intervention and the CCC’s social equity fund.

The lawmakers said the bill does not create any new barriers for entry into the legal market, as it prohibits the CCC from using a forgone tax revenue assessment as a disqualifier.

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