Cannabis Commission finishes regulations

State House News Service
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Wrapping up a process that began in December, the Cannabis Control Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved its final bundle of regulations for the newly-legal marijuana industry — and turned its attention towards the expected July 1 start of retail sales.

Tuesday’s vote followed three days of policy debate last week, when the five CCC members hashed out the fine details of the marijuana rules and struck agreements to delay on-site consumption and home delivery and to protect the supply of medical marijuana for patients. The CCC last week also weighed the torrent of feedback Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration and others sent regulators during the comment period on the draft regulations.

“I think the sum total of input yielded a better set of regulations,” CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman said Tuesday. “I think the evolution from the draft regulations to the final regulations we approved today reflects the input we got from many, many parties, including the executive offices. And I think as a result we have better regulations today.”

The regulations will be filed with the secretary of state’s office by March 15, after the commission’s lawyer and executive director check for typos, grammatical errors and other things that can be fixed without the CCC having to vote again.

The commission’s next deadline is April 1 — the date by which the CCC must begin to accept applications for licensure. Hoffman said Tuesday the CCC is still planning on retail marijuana sales beginning July 1.

“I think we have a lot of work to do in terms of building our staff and building our technology, but I think we have a good foundation based upon these regulations, so I am confident,” he said after Tuesday’s meeting. He added, “Our intent is to have a go on July 1 and we are hitting all of the deadlines that we have in the legislation, so I’m feeling good about that.”

Hoffman also singled out working with municipalities as a priority for the CCC between now and the start of retail sales. He said that marijuana businesses that are licensed at the state level must also get approval from the municipality, making it critical that “our process works with their process.”

“We can’t dictate whether cities and towns approve, we can’t dictate the pace, so we are relying on collaborating with them as we’ve done all along,” Hoffman said. “I’m comfortable now that they have final regulations that they can react to and hopefully have addressed some of their concerns, we’re comfortable they’ll move at a consistent pace with what we’re doing.”

Last week, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said communities need more clarity on what control they have over marijuana establishments and how they can use that power.

“I’ll tell you right now, we are not prepared at the local level,” Curtatone, who described a “deliberative” approach his city has taken to siting its medical marijuana dispensaries, said.

Will Luzier, political director for the Marijuana Policy Project of Massachusetts, said the approved regulations are “workable” but said his organization still has concerns about the ability of cities and towns to use their local control powers to slow or stall the rollout of legal marijuana sales.