Massachusetts Sheriffs urge Lawmakers to raise Marijuana Tax

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on May 01, 2017.

In Massachusetts, Sheriffs have urged state lawmakers to use the legalization of marijuana as an opportunity to invest in substance abuse prevention and treatment by raising the tax on marijuana sales from 10% to 15% to support addiction treatment programs in the state.

The Massachusetts Committee on Marijuana Policy held their last public hearing on Monday to review the marijuana legislation that voters approved in last November. The committee is expected to issue recommendations by June this year.

"We are searching and starving for resources," said Hampshire County Sheriff Patrick Cahillane, who predicted an uptick in addiction and more arrests from driving under the influence of marijuana. “Not everyone will smoke responsibly, much in the same way many people don’t drink responsibly”, he added.

Hampden County Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi said, “The resources are not there when people are putting their hand up for support, and as my colleague said earlier, corrections is one of the front lines, first lines, of detoxification for people that are coming in.”

Cocchi further said, “I’m not saying everyone who smokes a joint is going to become an addict.” But he pointed to his own experience of trying to cope with substance abuse through the county correctional system and the lack of financial resources available from the state to deal with the crisis.

Notably, nine of the state's fourteen sheriffs are listed as co-sponsors of the proposed marijuana legislation.

Currently, marijuana sales would be subject to a 3.75 percent excise tax on top of the state's 6.25 percent sales tax and a local option tax of 2 percent. The Massachusetts tax would be lower than those imposed in several Western states, including Colorado, Oregon and Washington, that previously legalized recreational marijuana.

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