The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has begun its public policy discussion for the retail marijuana regulations to implement Question 4. While we will address a few items during the upcoming public hearings, the first few days have generally shown encouraging results! The commission has looked at a variety of issues around marijuana business licensing and has made a few key determinations already:
- Businesses that derive more than 50% of revenue from marijuana may apply for a social consumption license, which would allow on-site consumption of marijuana. Other businesses that derive less than 50% of their revenue from cannabis sales may apply for a mixed-use license and may only sell marijuana in conjunction with another service, such as a restaurant, spa, movie theater, or yoga studio.
- The regulations will give priority review to business license applicants who have lived in areas disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and who hire employees that live in areas of disproportionate impact. This change will help the communities that have been most affected by the racial disparity in enforcement of marijuana prohibition.
- Applicants will receive priority for hiring people with prior drug convictions.
These decisions show the Cannabis Control Commission’s willingness to address the problems created by marijuana prohibition and the racial disparity in its enforcement, and we applaud their willingness to craft a fair and effective regulatory scheme. The commission will continue looking at draft regulations through next week, at which point the rules will be open for public comment. The final regulations are slated for March of next year.
In Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy just approved a "repeal and replace" bill that bears very little resemblance to the legalization law passed by 1.8 million voters in November.
The bill would undermine efforts to replace the unregulated market with a system of licensed businesses. It would take away the right of voters to decide on local marijuana policy, and it could impose a tax rate on marijuana that exceeds 50%. It authorizes the sharing of information with the FBI on cannabis commerce, including employees and medical patients. It also makes the Cannabis Control Commission — the entity that will regulate marijuana businesses — less unaccountable.
If you are a Massachusetts resident, please call your state representative and tell them not to vote for this bill when it is presented for a vote in the House on Thursday. We must not allow politicians to repeal and replace the will of the people, especially when their proposed changes are so flawed and misguided.
On Friday, we received a clear indication of what to expect from the Massachusetts Legislature in the next few months. Politicians introduced a number of bills that would adversely impact the implementation of Question 4 and restrict the new law’s home cultivation and personal possession limits.
Legislators have filed bills that would push back sales of edibles by two years, reduce home grow and personal possession limits, give local officials the power to block marijuana establishments, unnecessarily restructure the Cannabis Control Commission, and increase the legal age limit to 25.
These are clear attempts to reverse the will of the 1.8 million voters who approved Question 4.
If you are a Massachusetts resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them that you oppose any attempts to significantly alter Question 4, including those listed above.