Last week, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission approved new regulations that will allow marijuana delivery and social use cannabis cafes in a 4-1 vote. These new facets of the cannabis industry will open up even more opportunities, however, in the midst of it all the Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a four-month ban on all vape sales including those sold in licensed dispensaries.
The Governor has charged the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to enforce this ban following dozens of vape related illnesses and five reported deaths. The majority of these have been caused by vape cartridges that were produced and sold in unregulated illicit markets. The governor commented saying, "It's pretty clear at this point that there's something going on with vaping, and everyone should keep that in mind."
Massachusetts is the first state to implement a ban on all vaping products and while there is still legitimate concern many wonder how it will affect the cannabis industry. Some regulators and cannabis advocates feel that this decision may have been premature and lead to misinformation about laboratory tested vape cartridges.
Shaleen Title, a commissioner on the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission pointed out that, "This is a terrible decision. Purposely pushing people into the illicit market — precisely where the dangerous products are — goes against every principle of public health and harm reduction. It is dangerous, short-sighted, and undermines the benefits of legal regulation."
The vote to license marijuana delivery services and social use cannabis clubs has brought new optimism to the conversation. For the first two years, the CCC has prudently decided to only offer licenses for delivery services and cannabis cafes to social equity and economic empowerment applicants. This will specifically include businesses owned by minorities, people with prior drug convictions and residents who have lived and worked in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission chairman Steven Hoffman recently noted, “We feel like we have got a good balance between trying to meet the will of the voters but recognizing that there are concerns from a public health and a public safety standpoint.”
As the only no vote on the new regulations, Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan believe it’s still too early to assimilate these license categories into the cannabis industry. “I think we need to stand up this industry, making sure the retail and cultivation and microbusinesses all get priority before we start to do home delivery and social consumption.” Flanagan remarked.
Marijuana delivery and social use cannabis cafes will still be heavily regulated similarly to other areas of the industry. Both licenses will still require applicants to obtain a host community agreement which could be a lengthy process depending on where the business will be located. Once an applicant acquires a host community agreement they’ll be subject to a $1,500 application fee with a $10,000 annual renewal fee unless they are social equity and economic empowerment applicant. In this case these fees will be either significantly reduced or completely waived.