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July 8, 2022

Negotiators start cannabis reform talks with optimism

Photo | State House News Service Sen. Michael Rodrigues

Six lawmakers kicked off their work Thursday to finalize a cannabis industry reform bill that would represent the first major legislative action to modernize regulations on the recreational marijuana industry since it launched. 

Sen. Michael Rodrigues, one of the lead negotiators, said at the outset of the conference committee's virtual talks that there "doesn't seem to be many material differences" between the House and Senate bills (S 2823 / H 4800) dealing with host community agreements, on-site marijuana consumption cafes, and industry equity.

The branches diverged on how much marijuana revenue to put toward diversity and equity initiatives and the degree of executive branch authority over social equity grants. After Rodrigues and fellow conference committee chair Rep. Daniel Donahue of Worcester gave opening remarks, the panel voted to continue its talks in closed-door executive sessions. 

"I look forward to working with you and your team and our team as we hopefully quickly and successfully settle the differences between both of our bills," Rodrigues told fellow conferees. "It's the first time we've attempted to update and modernize the cannabis laws since they were enacted by the voters in 2016 and modified by us in the Legislature in 2017."

 "We're looking forward to working with your team as well," Donahue replied. "You're right. We're looking to make the first update to legislation from 2017 and trying to make sure we have a fair and equitable cannabis industry that continues to grow and succeed in the commonwealth."

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