Massachusetts regulators approve cannabis delivery services and social cafes

The suggestions put forward by the Cannabis Advisory Board’s public safety subcommittee will now make their way to the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC)

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

If things go to plan for a group of cannabis advocates in Massachusetts, the state could soon transform into a haven for cannabis culture. 

An advisory panel recently voted 5 to 2 in an effort that will hopefully urge regulators to distribute licenses among business owners who wish to open regular cannabis stores and social cafes.

If regulators approve of the idea, the cannabis-friendly state would be welcome to launching a profusion of businesses celebrating the herb, from weed-infused massage parlors to cannabis-enriched beauty treatments.

Under the terms of the proposal, cannabis business owners in Massachusetts would be free to host pot-themed parties and events aimed at teaching residents more about the plant and its derivatives, such as CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

Cannabis home delivery in Massachusetts was also suggested by the advocacy group. However, regulators are uncertain as to how home delivery would be regulated on a statewide scale.

A ‘yes” vote was received from Julie Jacobson, who is a member of the Massachusetts Municipalities Association. Members of her association – despite approving of the idea – believe that cannabis social cafes in Massachusetts ought to be permitted on the basis that towns and cities have to opt-in; as opposed to them being legalized on a local level.

Two police representatives voted against recommendation to permit delivery and cannabis social cafes in Massachusetts

A major concern that arose from the two police representatives who voted in opposition of cannabis social cafes in Massachusetts was the prospect of high drivers taking to the roads.

The subcommittee members are concerned that by allowing residents of Massachusetts to consume cannabis in a social setting, motorists will have no choice but to drive home under the influence of cannabis’ psychoactive compound THC.

My thought process here is strictly public safety and protecting the victims that are out there right now that could be harmed, injured, or killed,” said Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael

In spite of Carmichael’s concerns, he did make a point of noting that a “dilemma” exists for Massachusetts residents who do not have a safe, secure and legal setting in which to consume cannabis. Failure to introduce cannabis social cafes in Massachusetts could also have an impact on tourism, with tourists being left with limited options for puffing the herb.

Arguments arose regarding lack of taxing and regulation in Massachusetts’ cannabis industry

More disputes arose following the suggestion to introduce social cannabis cafes in Massachusetts’ legal industry; debates surfaced over the existing cafes and lounges that can be found in concealed settings. These establishments are not taxed, licensed or regulated.

Another debate arose regarding who should be permitted to procure licenses for the drug’s sale and transportation, if cannabis delivery in Massachusetts is legalized. Carmichael, alongside another law enforcement official, stated that cannabis delivery drivers should only be allowed to transport the plant to people’s homes if they are already affiliated with licensed and taxed retail stores.

The reason for their suggestion was that it would simplify the process of regulating cannabis delivery services in Massachusetts if the product is sourced from regulated retail outlets. Massachusetts’ cannabis delivery drivers could also be targeted by thieves, say police representatives; they will be dealing primarily in cash, due to a lack of legal cannabis banking.

Various other members of the subcommittee made disapproving suggestions about the idea of welcoming cannabis delivery in Massachusetts, arguing that females, minorities and uneducated groups my filter their way into the flourishing weed market if delivery services are allowed. However, a final vote of 4 to 3 meant that cannabis delivery drivers in Massachusetts would not need to be employed by a licensed pot shop after all.

Panel makes over 25 suggestions for Massachusetts’ cannabis industry

In addition to putting forward suggestions for cannabis delivery and social cannabis cafes in Massachusetts, the panel made more than 25 separate suggestions that would tweak the state’s budding industry. 

Panel members want the state to monitor the activity of companies that sell cannabis-related products to stoned drivers prior to their arrest. Another suggestion was that the employees of social cafes ought to receive training as a means of educating them on what constitutes “over-serving” a customer before he or she is deemed unfit to drive.

Lawmakers were advised to make it compulsory that venue owners file reports of illicit activity to state regulators and local police forces no later than one day after an occurrence. Compliance checks have also been suggested to ensure that underage consumers do not get access to Massachusetts’ cannabis social cafes and home delivery services.

The suggestions put forward by the Cannabis Advisory Board’s public safety subcommittee will now make their way to the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). The Commission will be in charge of determining how to provide in-depth oversight of both social consumption and cannabis delivery in Massachusetts.