Massachusetts Lawmakers Miss Deadline for Marijuana Deal

Lawmakers with the Massachusetts House and Senate failed to meet a self-imposed deadline to agree on a bill regulating the retail marijuana industry.

Six-member conference committees had until 8 p.m. Thursday to file legislation to be considered Friday by the House and Senate.

The committees also failed to reach an agreement on a state budget.

Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure in November 2016 to legalize marijuana in the state.

The House and Senate have since pushed distinct bills to regulate retail sales, with the branches clashing over tax rates. The House bill imposed a 28 percent tax on marijuana, while the Senate bill would impose a 12 percent tax, which is closer to the original ballot measure.

The House bill also gives cities and towns the power to ban shops from communities. The Senate bill would let voters retain local control over pot shops.

Supporters of the marijuana legislation are calling on Governor Charlie Baker to release funds to begin forming the governing body for the industry.

Negotiations continue and there is a chance that a vote could be held with a last-minute deal in order to pass a budget before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.

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