Initial Access Certification Will Become Available July 1 to Qualifying Patients and Personal Caregivers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 24, 2019

CONTACT: Cedric Sinclair, Director of Communications, 857-268-6454; Maryalice Gill, Press Secretary, 857-292-4891; cnbpress@state.ma.us

Initial Access Certification Will Become Available July 1 to Qualifying Patients and Personal Caregivers

BOSTON—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) today announced that Initial Access Certification will become available to qualifying patients and personal caregivers on Monday, July 1. With the help of a clinician, the new process will enable immediate entry to a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MTC) – commonly referred to as a Registered Marijuana Dispensary (RMD) – and allow patients to obtain medical-use marijuana prior to being issued an annual registration card.

“Since the Commission assumed oversight of the Medical Use of Marijuana Program six months ago, our focus has been on maintaining continuous, high-quality care for qualifying patients,” Commission Chairman Steven J. Hoffman said. “I am pleased the new Initial Access Certification process will address enduring concerns about administrative wait times while also enhancing patient and caregiver experience.”

Patients and caregivers who utilize Initial Access Certification will be permitted to enter an MTC once they receive a temporary registration document from the Commission. Once registered, Initial Access Certification will allow patients to be dispensed a limited, 14-day supply of medical-use marijuana, which the Commission has determined is 2.5 ounces, for two weeks. The patient’s clinician – who may include a certifying physician, a certifying certified nurse practitioner, or a certifying physician assistant who is registered in the Program – may determine and certify a patient requires a different amount.

Those who receive Initial Access Certification will still need to complete the traditional registration process through the Commission’s Online System in order to be issued an annual patient registration card. The temporary registration will expire either 14 days after issuance or when the recipient is approved for an annual registration card from the Commission.

Patients and caregivers will be limited to one temporary registration during any 365-day period unless otherwise approved by the Commission. Patients and caregivers must remain in compliance with the medical use of marijuana regulations in order to receive an annual registration card.

The Commission has posted information that patients, caregivers, clinicians, and MTCs should know about the Initial Access Certification process at Mass.gov/MedicalMarijuana.

For additional information regarding patient registration, please contact the Commission at MedicalMarijuana@State.MA.US or call (833) 869-6820.

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Social Equity Program Participants Receive Introductory Training for Entering the Adult-Use Cannabis Industry in Massachusetts

Cannabis Control Commission seminar features sessions on business planning, networking, and licensing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 3, 2019

CONTACT: Cedric Sinclair, Director of Communications, 857-268-6454; Maryalice Gill, Press Secretary, 857-292-4891; cnbpress@state.ma.us

BOSTON—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) held a kick-off seminar for accepted applicants of the nation’s first statewide Social Equity Program in Worcester on Saturday, June 1, 2019. The daylong event at Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Visitors’ Center drew 17 attendees who gained insight into the state’s licensing process and regulations and honed skills for business planning and networking in the Massachusetts cannabis industry.

An additional session is scheduled later this month in Greater Boston for a second cohort of accepted Social Equity Program applicants. Interested individuals should finalize and submit their application for the program by June 6 to be considered for participation. Applications will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis through MassCIPortal.com.

The Commission launched the Social Equity Program in accordance with a state mandate that requires full participation in the regulated marketplace by communities that have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition. Participants who meet one or more of the following criteria were eligible to attend the Saturday kick-off and will receive additional training in the future:

• They have resided in a Commission-designated area of disproportionate impact for at least five of the past 10 years and their current income does not exceed 400% of federal poverty level; or
• They have a past drug conviction and have been a resident of Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months; or
• They have been married to, or are the child of, a person with a drug conviction and have been a resident of Massachusetts for at least the preceding 12 months.

Commissioners and staff led the first session with an overview of the state’s licensing process and regulations as well as a workshop on business planning. A panel of industry representatives also shared their experiences working and networking in the Massachusetts marketplace.

In the coming months, Social Equity Program participants will receive additional technical assistance, training, and mentoring from vendors who have applied to provide coaching in the following areas:

• Accounting and sales forecasting;
• Farming best practices;
• Raising funds or capital;
• Navigation of municipal processes;
• Tax prediction and legal compliance and more.

Participant-specific courses will be shaped by four teaching tracks:
• Entrepreneur (those seeking licensure and ownership);
• Core (those interested in cannabis careers at the managerial and executive level);
• Re-Entry and Entry (those seeking entry level positions in marijuana establishments, re-entering society, or entering the workforce with 0-2 years of experience); and
• Ancillary (those with existing skills directly transferable to supporting cannabis businesses).

In addition to exclusive educational opportunities, Social Equity Program participants are eligible for certain fee waivers when they apply for a marijuana establishment license.

“The Commission is dedicated to helping the individuals and families hurt most by the War on the Drugs achieve full participation in the legal adult-use industry, in accordance with state law,” Executive Director Shawn Collins said. “Our first seminar demonstrated the wealth of untapped talent in Massachusetts that is working tirelessly to own, run, and support cannabis businesses. As they move forward with the Social Equity Program, we hope Saturday’s session provided a strong foundation for many more applicants to accomplish their goals.”

For more information about the program, contact the Commission’s Director of Community Outreach Shekia Scott at 617-701-8400 or CannabisEquity@mass.gov, visit MassCannabisControl.com/EquityPrograms, or follow the Commission on Facebook and Twitter.

Accepted applicants of the Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Program participated in a seminar at Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Visitors’ Center in Worcester on Saturday. Also pictured: Cannabis Control Commission Executive Director Shawn Collins, Director of Community Outreach Shekia Scott, and Commissioner Shaleen Title.

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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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

May 16, 2019

CONTACT: Cedric Sinclair, Director of Communications, 857-268-6454; Maryalice Gill, Press Secretary, 857-292-4891; cnbpress@state.ma.us

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.

For more information about social consumption or the Commission’s ongoing regulatory process, call (617)-701-8400, email CannabisCommission@mass.gov or follow the Commission on Facebook and Twitter.

Cannabis Control Commission Discusses Policy Changes to Adult Use, Medical Use of Marijuana Regulations

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                      

April 27, 2019

CONTACT: Cedric Sinclair, Director of Communications, 857-268-6454; Maryalice Gill, Press Secretary, 857-292-4891;cnbpress@state.ma.us

Cannabis Control Commission Discusses Policy Changes to Adult Use, Medical Use of Marijuana Regulations

Two Days of Dialogue Focus on Program Parity, Equity, Veteran Access and Participation, Energy and Efficiency Standards, and Public Safety

BOSTON—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) met on Thursday and Friday for policy discussions of potential changes to the medical use of marijuana and adult-use cannabis regulations in Massachusetts. The concepts under review are part of a process to draft and promulgate new regulations for Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) – also known as Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (RMDs) – and Marijuana Establishments (MEs) as well as the ongoing implementation of the medical-use and adult-use cannabis laws in the Commonwealth. 

The proposed policies will be incorporated into draft regulations on which the Commission will vote at a later meeting. The public will have the opportunity to comment on all drafts before final regulations are promulgated by the Secretary of State. 

Fees

Under the adult-use cannabis program, the Commission discussed:

  • Maintaining low barriers to entry by keeping fees the same for small Cultivators (up to 20,000 square feet of canopy), Microbusinesses, Third-Party Transporters, and Research Facilities;
  • Recouping licensing and inspectional costs and bringing the adult-use cannabis industry in line with the medical-use industry by increasing license and application fees for larger Cultivators (20,001-100,000 square feet of canopy), as well as Retailers, Product Manufacturers, Independent Testing Laboratories, and Transporters with an Existing License;
  • Continuing to support farmers by maintaining reduced fees for outdoor Cultivators; and
  • Expanding support for certified Economic Empowerment applicants and Social Equity Program participants by providing application fee waivers for both constituencies and reducing the first annual license fee for new license applicants.

Under the Medical Use of Marijuana Program, the Commission discussed:

  • Bringing parity to the medical-use and adult-use application processes by developing new application fees for vertically-integrated MMTCs that reflect the application fees for adult-use Retailers, Product Manufacturers, and Cultivators, and reviewing current licensing fees.

For certified patients who register for access to medical marijuana, the Commission discussed:

  • Potentially eliminating the $50 annual patient registration fee, pending a financial evaluation of ways in which the Commission will offset lost Medical Use of Marijuana Program revenue.

Applications

To streamline the application process and create administrative efficiencies, the Commission discussed:

  • Moving to one process for both the medical-use and adult-use cannabis programs, which includes requiring MMTC applications to be submitted through the existing online Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal that is already required for ME applications; 
  • Transitioning the current MMTC and ME licensing process from a multi-packet submission to a singular application that combines all required packets into one form; and
  • Requiring MMTC applicants to submit a plan to support patients that resembles the positive impact and diversity plans which are required to be submitted under the adult-use cannabis licensing process.

Ownership and Control

To strengthen protections of the statutory limitations regarding ownership and control under the Medical Use of Marijuana Program and adult-use cannabis program, the Commission discussed:

  • Requiring MMTC and ME applicants to proactively submit management contracts and similar materials as part of their application versus the current process in which staff request documentation over the course of application review and investigation;
  • Clarifying ownership and control definitions under both the medical-use and adult-use cannabis programs; and
  • Strengthening consequences for entities that violate the limits using enforcement mechanisms such as licensure denial, revocation of a license, and denial of a license renewal.

Suitability Standards

To strengthen and deter conduct that violates the Commission’s adult-use cannabis regulations, the Commission discussed:

  • Creating a mandatory disqualification for MEs that have their license revoked or renewal denied as the result of regulatory violations in the preceding five years; and
  • Creating a presumptive negative determination that an applicant can overcome after the five-year period ends.

Delivery

To lower the barriers of entry while preserving public safety, the Commission discussed:

  • Creating a delivery-only license type with exclusivity periods for Economic Empowerment applicants and Social Equity Program participants;
  • Developing delivery-only regulations that are consistent with retail operation safety protocols;
  • Restricting delivery to residential addresses and municipalities where retail sales are permitted; and 
  • Requiring delivery businesses to obtain the product from licensed Retailers.

Transactions and Potency

To add clarity to transaction and potency regulations, the Commission discussed:

  • Explicitly prohibiting Marijuana Establishments from “knowingly” selling beyond the transaction limits; and
  • Developing guidance on potency limits during the Fall regulatory process.

Energy & Environmental Standards

To fully implement the Energy & Environmental standards, the Commission discussed:

  • Adopting draft regulations on Waste Disposal, Air Pollution, Lighting Power Density Standards, Compliance Documentation, and Renewable Exemption; 
  • Applying the Energy & Environmental standards to the Medical-Use of Marijuana Program; and
  • Grandfathering adoption of the Energy & Environmental standards for MEs and MMTCs with a final license.

Cash Handling

To enhance safety provisions on cash handling, the Commission discussed:

  • Requiring the use of armored transport that is registered with state police or alternatives that satisfy specific security requirements, including:
    • Real-time GPS
    • 2-way communication between MEs and transporters
    • Prohibition of transporting cash and marijuana or marijuana products in the vehicle together
    • Approval from the financial institutions where deposits will occur

Veteran Access and Participation

To increase veteran access and participation, the Commission discussed:

  • Supporting the development of Medical Use of Marijuana Program regulations that allow veterans with debilitating illnesses (e.g. PTSD) to be registered in the Program; and
  • Developing a timeline and plan to reevaluate the Social Equity Program criteria, including consideration of additional communities that have been impacted by drug enforcement (e.g. Veterans).

Medical-Use of Marijuana Program Enhancements

To increase the efficacy of the medical-use program, the Commission discussed:

  • Increasing the patient cap for caregivers during the Fall regulatory process; and
  • Working with concerned stakeholders to implement the Hardship Cultivation registration process during the Fall regulatory process.

Social Consumption

The Commission intends to reconvene on Thursday, May 16 to discuss policies related to social consumption, including recommendations submitted to staff by a working group that consists of local officials from across the Commonwealth who are interested in implementing social consumption in their municipalities.

A video recording of the Commission’s full policy discussions will be available on the Commission’s Facebook page

The Commission also is available to the public by phone at 617-701-8400, by email at CannabisCommission@mass.gov, and on Twitter.

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Cannabis Control Commission Open Data Platform to Enhance Public’s Access to Massachusetts Marijuana Industry Metrics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                

April 24, 2019

BOSTON—The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) on Wednesday launched the first phase of its Open Data Platform through the Socrata Connected Government Cloud to enhance public access to adult-use marijuana marketplace metrics in Massachusetts.

The public can utilize the platform at MassCannabisControl.com/OpenData.

Socrata’s secure, cloud-based, self-service platform will break down data silos and offer visitors instant downloads of industry information including marijuana establishment agent demographics, retail sales and product distribution, and applications and licenses approved under the adult-use cannabis program.

These insights will help the Commission and the public measure administrative performance, impacts on public health and safety, participation of disproportionately harmed communities, tax revenue generation, and more.

“The Open Data Platform reflects the Commission’s commitment to transparency, informed decision-making, and public engagement,” Executive Director Shawn Collins said. “As the marketplace and our agency continue to mature, this platform will offer everyone, including the public, more access to sales data, product distribution, and statistics on industry diversity.  Ultimately, this system will serve as another tool to not just hold ourselves accountable, but allow the public to do the same.”

The Commission also will use the system to measure the contributions of communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition. Massachusetts is mandated to create equity within legal, adult-use cannabis and reduce barriers to entry for people of color, women, and veterans. Additionally, the Commission will continue to track the industry participation of other constituencies including farmers and the LGBTQ community.  

Future phases of the system, including the introduction of medical use information where appropriate, are expected to launch later this year.

For more information about the Commission’s Open Data Platform, visit MassCannabisControl.com/OpenData.

The Commission is available to the public by phone at 617-701-8400, by email at CannabisCommission@mass.gov, and on Facebookand Twitter.

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CCC

Administration of Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Program to Transfer to Cannabis Control Commission

Adults Urged to Consume Responsibly as Retail Marijuana Establishments Commence Operations in Massachusetts

Independent Testing Labs Authorized to Start Testing Products for the Adult-Use Cannabis Industry