Terry Cowgill | Berkshire Edge
Great Barrington — By a substantial margin, voters in Massachusetts approved a ballot measure in 2016 that legalized the sale and adult use of recreational marijuana products.
The state Cannabis Control Commission was hastily formed and its members, in conjunction with lawmakers on Beacon Hill, began the process of coming up with guidelines and regulations to govern the new industry only three years after medical marijuana was legalized through the same procedure.
Even before the initiative passed and the sausage was made, concerns were raised about the high barriers to entry into the business and the plights of those incarcerated as a result of punitive drug possession laws.
Moreover, there was a social justice component. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, as of 2014, black people in the state were 3.3 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, “even though rates of drug use are essentially the same across races.” The ACLU attributed this disparity to “policing practices [that] target communities of color.”