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House Approves Revamp Of Recreational Pot Law

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The Massachusetts House has passed a revised version of the state's recreational marijuana legislation.

The House began debating proposed changes to the voter-approved law that legalized recreational use of marijuana by adults late Wednesday afternoon and continued until about 10 p.m.

Speaker Robert A DeLeo stated, "This bill reflects a commitment to legalizing adult-use marijuana while upholding our duty to ensure safety and effective management. The House placed a premium on health and safety. In addition to the rigorous product testing and security measures, I believe that the independence of the Cannabis Control Commission will allow this new industry to be implemented in a safe and efficient manner."

126 Representatives voted in favor of the bill, 28 against. It will now go to the Senate.

The bill will not revise any of the current rules around how much marijuana individuals can legally possess or how many plants they're allowed to grow inside their homes.

But the bill does call for steeper taxes on recreational marijuana purchases when pot shops begin opening next year. The tax would be 28 percent, compared to 12 percent in the law approved by voters.

"You want to be high when you're starting off regulating a new industry, you don't want to be short on revenue," said the bill's sponsor, Mark Cusak, a Democrat from Braintree.

It would also allow for towns to prohibit dispensaries.

Most legalization advocates support the more modest revisions proposed in a Senate bill.

Outside the State House Wednesday, activists gathered to protest the changes.

Supporters of legalized marijuana say state lawmakers are trying to overturn last November's pro-marijuana referendum with the high tax rate.

Peter Bernard, with the Massachusetts Marijuana Growers Advisory Council, says it's about honoring the will of the people.

"The voters voted for this, and they need to respect us," he said at a rally on Beacon Hill Wednesday. "Reach out and tell them to kill this bill."

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mike Macklin reports

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