Massachusetts Lawmaker Proposes Marijuana Tax Revenue Fund Battle Against Opioid Addiction
BOSTON, Mass. (March 9, 2017) – House Speaker Robert DeLeo just this week proposed using tax from legal marijuana sales in Massachusetts to create a Substance Addiction Fund while speaking to the Boston Chamber of Commerce, Boston.com reports. The state is expected to gain revenue from the retail sale of the drug as early as 2018. The Democratic lawmaker opposed the vote to legalize marijuana back in November, citing concerns that it can be a gateway drug to more dangerous substances. “We have a rare opportunity to deploy a new tactic to fight what has become the fastest growing killer of young adults and other Massachusetts residents,” DeLeo said. Massachusetts saw over 2,000 opioid overdose deaths last year, increasing for the sixth year in a row. The law calls for a 3.75% tax on marijuana that would be added to the state’s 6.25% sales tax, along with an optional 2% local tax – a significantly lower amount than states like Colorado, Washington and Oregon. Massachusetts Treasurer Deb Goldberg wrote U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week asking how the Department of Justice plans to enforce federal laws regarding the sale of marijuana. In 2015, opioids surpassed alcoholism as the drug of choice in the state known for healthcare reform. That year over 2,000 new cases of Hepatitis C in people under the age of 30 were discovered in Massachusetts, and health officials feel intravenous drug use is to blame. A higher tax rate on marijuana is among several potential revisions to the law currently be considered by lawmakers in Massachusetts.