HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html State Pot Commission Aims To Have First Draft Of Rules Set By
Pubdate: Tue, 21 Nov 2017
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2017 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Dan Adams


Pot sales are expected to begin around July 1 in Massachusetts.

The Cannabis Control Commission is pushing to write a first draft of
new rules permitting the legal sale of marijuana in Massachusetts by
the end of the year, setting up a frenetic month that will shape the
recreational pot industry.

The commission announced Tuesday that it plans to file initial
regulations by Dec. 29. Among numerous details, they will spell out
the criteria for winning dispensary licenses, rules for marijuana
consumption bars, and a plan for ensuring diversity in the industry.

The commission said the near-term deadline is necessary if it hopes to
have final regulations officially in place by March 15, as required by
law. The next deadline comes soon after, on April 1, when companies
can begin applying for licenses. Pot sales are expected to begin
around July 1.

Pulling it off will require the agency to work practically nonstop
over the next month, especially during the week of Dec. 11, when the
commission has scheduled five consecutive day-long public meetings to
debate and vote on specific policies.

"We have a lot of work to get done," commission chairman Steve Hoffman
said Tuesday. "It's going to be a long week, there's no question
whatsoever about it. But I think it's absolutely the right thing to

Hoffman said that while some basic rules can be drafted quickly or
simply carried over from the existing medical marijuana program, other
critical issues are sure to be more contentious. These include the
packaging and labeling requirements for edible marijuana products and
the regulation of so-called "social consumption lounges," essentially
bars that serve cannabis instead of alcohol.

Another sticky question is how to fulfill the law's mandate to
expedite licenses to businesses that would benefit minority
communities that were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

"They're not no-brainers," Hoffman said of the more complex issues
facing the commission.

The commission said it will schedule public hearings on the draft
regulations around the state in early February.

The five commissioners of the cannabis agency on Tuesday also debated
how much they should disclose of their conversations with lobbyists
and interest groups during this hectic period. The commissioners have
set aside time during the week of Dec. 18 to meet individually with
such stakeholders.

Commissioner Shaleen Title, a former marijuana activist and
businesswoman, argued those meetings should be recorded and made
public. But Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan, a former state senator,
countered the agency did not have enough time to transcribe each
meeting and that such a policy would have a chilling effect on the
frank feedback it wants.

The commissioners ultimately agreed not to record the meetings, but
will disclose any reasons for changes in proposed regulations made
during December.
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