Evans' "Act to Regulate and Tax the Cannabis Industry" calls for the legal sale of marijuana by licensed vendors, who, along with growers and distributors, would be overseen by a state Cannabis Control Board. The board would have seven part-time paid members appointed by the governor.
Under the bill, cannabis could be sold in quantities of one ounce, in sealed containers that identify the grower and the grade and include a warning about driving under the influence. ( The bill would have no effect on existing laws about driving while impaired. ) Buyers would have to be at least 21 years old, and sales via vending machines would be prohibited. The pot could not contain additives, or be part of a beverage or snack food.
Small-scale "backyard" growers would not be taxed or regulated, in the same way home beer brewers are not regulated by state alcohol laws. Indeed, the bill bears a strong resemblance to the laws that regulate alcohol sales in the state.
Evans' bill would also impose a steep excise tax on marijuana sales, ranging from $150 to $250 per ounce, depending on its grade ( the amount of Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it contains ).
That last provision is especially relevant given the current dismal state of Massachusetts' economy. Regulating and taxing marijuana could have significant fiscal benefits for the commonwealth, supporters contend. A much-cited 2003 study by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron concluded that legalizing pot would save Massachusetts $120.6 million a year, the cost of arresting and prosecuting people on marijuana charges. ( That figure was often pointed to by supporters of Question 2, the 2008 ballot question that decriminalized the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. ) Miron's report also found that legalization could generate almost $17 million a year in tax revenue for the state.