FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 16, 2019
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Cannabis Control Commission Votes in Favor of Social Consumption Pilot Program in Third Day of Adult Use, Medical Use of Marijuana Policy Discussions
Proposal would give Microbusinesses, Craft Marijuana Cooperatives, Economic Empowerment Applicants, Social Equity Applicants two years of license exclusivity in 12 municipalities
BOSTON—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) concluded its third and final day of policy discussions on Thursday regarding potential changes to the medical use and adult use of cannabis regulations in Massachusetts. As part of an ongoing process to draft revisions this spring, Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a proposal that would launch a future social consumption pilot program in Massachusetts.
Under the pilot, a limited number of communities across the state would be authorized to host marijuana establishments in which adults ages 21 and older could consume cannabis on site. Licenses for primary-use locations and events sanctioned by a municipality would be exclusively available to licensed Microbusinesses and Craft Marijuana Cooperatives as well as certified Economic Empowerment Applicants and Social Equity Applicants for an initial period of two years.
All regulatory changes, including the pilot proposal, must be voted on by Commissioners at another public meeting slated May 30, then undergo a public comment period and receive final Commission approval before they are promulgated by the Secretary of State. Despite Thursday’s vote, the Commission acknowledged the pilot program would not be able to begin without a change in state law or the passage of legislation that will first allow cities and towns to authorize social consumption in their communities.
Once that happens, the pilot would permit licensees to operate in up to 12 municipalities statewide. North Adams, Amherst, Springfield, Provincetown, and Somerville, which participated in a Commission-led working group on social consumption, would be among those able to opt-in to participate. The policy discussions Thursday stemmed from a memorandum produced by working group members.
Chairman Steven J. Hoffman and Commissioner Shaleen Title, as well as local administrators, councilors, health and human service officials, and a municipal planner reviewed policies in other states as well as feedback from the Cannabis Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and Commission staff. Key issues they considered included the prevention of underage access, impairment detection by servers, serving sizes on edible marijuana products, and impaired driving.
The working group also recommends that smoking only be permitted outdoors – away from doors, windows, and ventilators – and if the locality finds it compatible with surrounding uses. Indoor vaping would be permitted if a ventilation system is utilized that removes vapor and odor. Once social consumption is approved, the host municipality would have the authority to cap the number of licensed marijuana establishments or events it allows.