Grow, Gift, Repair

Crackdown!? Part 2

“When voters passed this legislation, they did it with the understanding that the industry would be regulated and taxed, and the products would be tested,” Moore said Tuesday evening. “We need to work at this to meet the public’s expectations, and enhance the legislation that the voters passed.”

The task force would focus on more effectively identifying the black market to “drive operators to the legal, taxed, and tested adult- and medical-use market, maximize tax revenues, reduce youth access, and reinvest the newly created revenues authorized by the bill to youth prevention, social equity, and drugged driving prevention and detection,” reads the bill summary.

“Despite legalization, the illegal market is still active and easily accessible,” reads a media advisory about the legislation.

The Herald on Monday reported that Massachusetts cops and cannabis advocates say the illicit marijuana market is being fueled by legal pot sales. Legal weed is expensive compared to the black market, and legal shops are few and far between.

More than 75 percent of Massachusetts’ marijuana sales are still coming from the illicit market, according to a recent study that Moore pointed to on Tuesday.

He added that the state has not received as much tax revenue from legal sales as first expected.

The task force would include members from both state and local law enforcement, the Department of Revenue, the attorney general, cannabis control commissioners, the treasurer, the Department of Public Health, and the Department of Agriculture.

The “forgone tax revenue assessment” would be significant, Moore said. For instance, the recently busted illicit marijuana Milton operation had more than $14 million in revenue. A 60 percent tax assessment from this legislation would have resulted in an $8.4 million “forgone tax revenue assessment” to the state.

Revenue created by that assessment would be deposited in the Cannabis Control Commission Marijuana Regulation Fund, and would be specifically be earmarked for municipal and state police training; youth prevention programming and early intervention; and the CCC’s Social Equity Fund.