Massachusetts Plans Regulations for Marijuana Cafes

Cannabis cafes are coming to Massachusetts – it is not a matter of if but when. Lawmakers set the timeframe back in March, committing to hash out a plan for marijuana cafe regulations by February 2019.

Cannabis cafes were written into the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in the state. However, Gov. Charlie Baker says the industry is too difficult to regulate all at once. He and Attorney General Maura Healey, along with other lawmakers, urged the state Cannabis Commission to stagger the rollout.

The commission had initially planned to license social use establishments and marijuana delivery services at the same time as retail stores, the first of which will receive their licenses this July. Baker, who was openly opposed to the 2016 referendum, says the staggered rollout is based on results seen in Colorado and Oregon.

The commission agreed to the delay. They say they will continue reviewing social use cafes, setting a deadline of October 31 for crafting regulations, and plans to adopt those regulations by February 2019.

In the meantime, the commission is busy researching concerns from the Baker administration that social consumption cafes will increase impaired driving and underage access. These two concerns have been the most prominent public safety arguments against regulating and licensing the cafes.

The commission also plans to address the issue of smoking. It is likely Massachusetts will only issue permits for marijuana cafes that limit their consumable products to extracts, edibles and vaping while prohibiting marijuana smoke. This would comply with the statewide ban on smoking indoors.

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