The Latest: House approves bill to replace marijuana law

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on the debate over marijuana legalization in Massachusetts (all times local):

Continue Reading Below

10 p.m.

The Massachusetts House has approved a bill that would repeal and replace the recreational marijuana law approved by the state's voters.

The 126-28 vote came Wednesday night after several hours of discussion.

Democratic Rep. Mark Cusack is House chairman of the Legislature's Marijuana Policy Committee. He says the bill makes "sensible and practical" improvements to the November ballot question that legalized adult use of pot.

The bill would raise the tax on retail marijuana sales from 12 percent to 28 percent. It also calls for stringent background checks and fingerprinting for people who own or work in licensed marijuana-related businesses. It would give municipal officials more power to ban pot shops from their communities.

Continue Reading Below

Critics have lashed out at the proposal, saying it ignores the will of the electorate.

The Senate on Thursday is scheduled to take up a more modest set of changes, setting the stage for negotiations between the two chambers on a compromise version.

___

3:55 p.m.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has begun debating more than 100 proposed amendments to a bill that would repeal and replace the recreational marijuana law approved by the state's voters.

Hours earlier on Wednesday, several dozen pro-marijuana advocates gathered in front of the Statehouse to urge lawmakers to vote down the measure, or at least remove several elements they oppose.

The House bill would raise the tax on retail marijuana sales from 12 percent to 28 percent.

Other provisions include stringent background checks and fingerprinting for all people who own or work in licensed marijuana-related businesses, and authority for municipal officials to ban or limit pot shops from opening.

The Senate on Thursday is expected to take up a separate bill that would make fewer changes to the current law.