HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Mass. Marijuana Board Moving Toward First Draft Of Regs
Pubdate: Tue, 21 Nov 2017
Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
Copyright: 2017 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Author: Colin A. Young


BOSTON - Genuine debate on marijuana policy and how the legal pot
industry should look in Massachusetts is likely coming from the
Cannabis Control Commission during the middle two weeks of December,
which are shaping up to be the CCC's busiest yet as the agency tries
to file the first draft of its regulations by Dec. 29.

The CCC has tentatively penciled in public meetings for policy
discussion and debate on the draft regulations each day of the week of
Dec. 11, chairman Steven Hoffman said Tuesday. The following week will
begin with three days of private stakeholder meetings and then at
least one public meeting for the CCC to vote on acceptance of the
draft regulations.

"We really have to have our drafts done in December and to have our
draft regulations done in December we literally have to have at least
a full week of public meetings and discussions about some of the
critical items we have to decide on," Hoffman said Tuesday. Among the
issues the CCC needs to discuss are "policies that the Legislature
required us to develop regulations on but didn't say what those
regulations are supposed to be.

"They're not no-brainers, if you will, in terms of that and so we just
need to discuss and debate them in public and make decisions so we can
incorporate them into our draft regulations," Hoffman said.

After filing the draft regulations with the secretary of state by Dec.
29, the public will have most of January to read and scrutinize the
draft rules. The CCC is planning to hold a series of public hearings
on the draft across the state during the week of February 5, with snow
dates the following week.

The CCC is aiming to file its final regulations by March 9, ahead of
the March 15 statutory deadline, Hoffman said.

The legal marijuana law passed by voters and significantly altered by
the Legislature spells out at least 40 areas which the CCC is directed
to address with "regulations, guidelines and protocols."

Among the topics the CCC must cover are: the method and form of
application for a marijuana license, a schedule of fees related to the
application and licensing process, qualifications for licensure and
minimum standards for employment, requirements for record keeping and
tracking marijuana, minimum security and insurance standards, health
and safety standards, and agricultural standards.

Hoffman on Tuesday mentioned social consumption of marijuana and
edible marijuana products as two examples of issues the CCC will
wrestle with as it prepares its draft regulations. Home delivery of
marijuana, a topic Hoffman said the CCC heard about during its
listening sessions last month, could also be a topic of debate.

"I actually think the week of December 11 is going to be a very
seminal week in terms of our commission and the industry we're trying
to build," Hoffman said. "We're going to get it right, but there are
some very, very complicated and, as I said, potentially controversial
topics that we need to discuss and we're going to do it in public
because that's the right way to do it."

Also on the CCC's list of required regulations are rules for things
like the disposal of "excess, contaminated, adulterated or
deteriorated marijuana," how state regulators can prohibit the sale of
a marijuana product if it is "found especially appealing to persons
under 21," and how a marijuana product manufacturer can voluntarily
submit a product and its packaging to the CCC for review to determine
if it would appeal to young people.

The CCC will also have to figure out how to accommodate Martha's
Vineyard and Nantucket -- islands that can only be reached by passing
through air or water that is federally regulated -- without running
afoul of federal marijuana prohibition. Those special regulations must
be promulgated by the CCC no later than May 1, 2018.

And the commission will also have to, essentially, teach people how to
grow marijuana in their own homes. State law calls for the CCC to
issue "advisory guidelines and best practices on the cultivating of
marijuana within a person's primary residence." By law, adults are
allowed to grow six marijuana plants in their home, or up to 12 plants
if there are two or more adults living in the home.

The commissioners have already begun drafting the CCC's initial
regulations, an effort led by commissioners Kay Doyle and Britte
McBride. Hoffman said the CCC is borrowing quite a bit from other
states that have legalized marijuana but will also write some
regulations from scratch.

"I don't want to demean the work by calling it boilerplate, but there
is some basic stuff that we really don't have to reinvent the wheel
about," he said. "But the things I was talking about that will be
subject to these conversations the week of December 11, it's really
not about looking at other states, it's really we're going to
fundamentally make some decisions about how we want this industry to
look in Massachusetts and then we'll develop regulations

As it sets out to write rules for the legal marijuana industry, the
CCC will draw from the feedback they received from listening sessions
held in October. The CCC heard from about 150 people at eight sessions
around the state, received comments from 40 people via traditional
mail and received another 280 comments by email, Hoffman said.

"I think we're all resolved that December is not going to be a whole
lot of fun in terms of free time," he said. "But we believe that we
can and will hit these deadlines."
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