Yesterday, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission approved the new regulations for the medical and recreational marijuana industry. There are several changes in this version of the drafted regulations which will revamp the existing regulations and establish new segments for marijuana delivery services and cannabis cafes in Massachusetts. Now there will be public hearings held next month to address any and all concerns from cannabis businesses, advocates, and legal experts.
One of the new segments will really be an extension of brick and mortar dispensaries. The new regulations will allow for marijuana delivery services from licensed recreational cannabis retailers. However, there are some regulations that could incur more financial burden for deliveries. Increased security measures would require video surveillance for the delivery vehicles as well as body cams for the delivery drivers.
While these statutes were passed by the Cannabis Control Commission, not all the commissioners were in favor of them. Commissioner Shaleen Title pointed out that, “To the extent that home delivery to patients has been ongoing, there may already be security in place that goes above and beyond our regulations, and to my knowledge there haven’t been incidents. That seems to be an argument that you should not be putting in additional burdens and regulations.” Commissioner Title was the only nay vote on this draft of regulations.
There is likely to be more discussion about these provisions during the comment period. This is delivery service owners can express their concerns with increasing costs and possible legal implications regarding patient privacy and data storage. Additionally the new regulations mandate the same verification process for medical marijuana patients and recreational consumers. Patients will now be required to verify their age by walking into a retailer to present their identification and medical documents, however the state will provide an alternative verification process for patients who are disable and unable to appear in person.
The expansion of new business sectors also mean increased opportunity and commissioners wanted to ensure that small local businesses were a priority. The regulations clarify that social cannabis cafes and delivery licenses will first be issued to local entrepreneurs whose small companies have already acquired microbusiness or craft-cooperative licenses from the CCC. Additionally, licensing officials will prioritize participants in the commission’s economic empowerment and social equity programs.
Initially, the state wants to establish a small pilot program, with social cannabis cafes opening in just a few municipalities that volunteer, so regulators can collect and review data on the operations and modify their rules before allowing cafes statewide. The cafes being considered will allow the use of edibles and cannabis vaporizers in ventilated indoor areas, but smoking cannabis would only be allowed outdoors upon municipal approval. To be considered, cannabis cafe businesses will have to provide detailed safety measures on how they will avoid over-serving customers and how they can ensure impaired consumers get home without driving.
Cannabis Control Commission chairman Steve Hoffman explained that, “There’s going to be comfortable seating, there’s going to be service, and people are going to be able to sit with friends and consume legal marijuana products. What the environment is going to be like — whether they’re going to play classic rock or jazz — that’s up to the entrepreneur. But they’re going to be comfortable places for people to [safely] consume . . . products that have been lab tested, that are labeled appropriately. We’ve done everything we can to ensure that it is a safe experience.”