Massachusetts approved the final regulations that will govern its recreational cannabis industry. This means that recreational pot sales will be able to proceed this summer as originally planned.
“There are no anticipated potential roadblocks between now and the July 1 target launch date for licensed cannabis retail stores.” – Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steve Hoffman
After a few changes and tweaks to the draft, members of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) unanimously voted in support of the proposed cannabis guidelines, which have been in the works for several months. The CCC is a five-member panel that has been tasked to regulate the state’s pot industry.
The approval of the final draft of regulations means that the CCC is right on track in terms of their timeline. They had set a March 15 deadline for the draft regulations and are scheduled to begin accepting business license applications from recreational cannabis retailers on April 1. Their target date for opening recreational cannabis sales is on July 1.
CCC chairman Steve Hoffman said that he does not anticipate any potential roadblocks between now and the July 1 target launch date for licensed cannabis retail stores. The commission still has a lot of work to do, but Hoffman is optimistic and confident about their timeline, saying that the state has a “good foundation” based on the finalized regulations.
According to Hoffman, they just need to make sure they have all of the CCC’s staff and technology in place. They also need to continue collaborating with the state’s cities and towns to make sure all of them are comfortable and that the CCC’s process works with theirs.
Hoffman added that the largest possible delay in the July rollout could arise at the local level, wherein municipalities need to sign off on their own guidelines and permits for cannabis businesses. While it is possible for problems to emerge at the local level, Hoffman said he is hoping it won’t be the case.
It can be recalled that Massachusetts legalized recreational cannabis in 2016 through a ballot initiative.
Supporters of the 2016 referendum are generally happy with the final regulations.
Key points of the cannabis regulations
Some noteworthy provisions and important changes of the cannabis regulations include:
- Onsite or social consumption of cannabis and home delivery of cannabis products are not permitted for now. However, regulators promise that the guidelines for cannabis cafes or businesses that allow social and onsite consumption and home delivery will be ready before the year ends.
(You can read about our article on Massachusetts’ proposed cannabis café’s here.)
- Dispensaries need to set aside 35% of their inventory – or a six-month average of medical cannabis sales – for registered patients who need medical cannabis for treatment. Moreover, registered patients will not need to stand in line with other people to purchase their needed medicine. This regulation addresses what many registered patients are worried about when recreational cannabis starts being sold in the market: that there will be a stampede when dispensaries also offer adult-use pot to customers over 21 years old.
- People with felony convictions for the trafficking of hard drugs will be banned from the industry. This means that convicted drug traffickers (for drugs other than cannabis) are prohibited from working in the cannabis industry. This is in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention from federal prosecutors.
- Cannabis growing operations will be limited to 100,000 square feet or 2.3 acres. This is to ensure that cultivators do not grow as much cannabis as they wanted, which might tempt them to divert excess product out of state or divert it to the black market.
The CCC also approved the labels to be placed on recreational cannabis products. These labels carry a red and black-colored design with the words “Not Safe for Kids” and “Contains THC.”