Commissioner says Massachusetts Agriculture Department will need more money to regulate marijuana growth

 In Decriminalization, Dispensaries, Financial, Legalization, Local News

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources will need extra money to regulate the use of pesticides for growing marijuana, Agriculture Commissioner John Lebeaux said Monday.

“To accomplish proper pesticide regulation enforcement, it would be very difficult to do with existing resources,” Lebeaux told the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy at a public hearing.

Lebeaux said he does not yet know exactly how much money he will need. But he suggested that recreational marijuana could be a $200 million agricultural industry — potentially representing almost half of Massachusetts’ agricultural economy.

“I think my folks would need some help to adequately manage this process,” Lebeaux said. “I can’t in good conscience say we could just absorb it and continue to do all the things we do.”

As Springfield police officers shuttered a store handing out marijuana for free while charging an admission fee, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker acknowledged the state is in a “no man’s land” four months after voters broadly legalized the controversial substance for adults who are over the age of 21.

Colorado’s Agriculture Department requested a $3 million budget boost to hire 14 new staff — including inspectors, enforcement staff, an educator and a lab technician — to regulate marijuana growing in that state.

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