Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission advisory panel OKs pot cafes and delivery
A Cannabis Control Commission subcommittee voted to recommend that pot cafes and weed delivery vans be allowed despite reservations of some members.
Members of the Public Safety and Community Mitigation Subcommittee narrowly recommended delivery-only pot businesses with four members supporting it and three opposed during their meeting Wednesday, while two members of the committee opposed social use establishments. Both recommendations come with a wide range of conditions.
Walpole police Chief John Carmichael raised red flags about the dangers of delivery-only pot companies and social use cafes, saying they would be a “burden” to law enforcement.
“Delivery-only is a tragedy waiting to happen,” Carmichael said. “There are people that are robbed and shot over a cellphone, never mind a vehicle pulling up into a neighborhood full of cash and marijuana products. It’s not safe, and it would be very difficult to make it safe.”
Former state public safety secretary Andrea Cabral suggested a brick-and-mortar purchase be required before someone can order delivery, so that person’s information could be kept on file.
Carmichael also argued that delivery-only sales add to a gray market that already exists among people who falsely claim to have the proper certification to run a pot business, in addition to public safety concerns.
“You don’t know who is ordering it and where your’e going, and people are going to get robbed. I mean, that’s the reality,” he said.
The Walpole chief cited a survey from the Department of Public Health in which 7 percent of the adult population reported driving under the influence of marijuana in the past 30 days, which would be about 395,125 drivers in Massachusetts relative to the state’s population.
Matthew Allen, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, countered that some of those drivers may not have any other option if they can’t use the drug at home due to roommates or they are living in public housing.
“Providing a place to consume safely and legally hopefully reduces perception that the use of cannabis while driving a car is appropriate,” Allen said.
The subcommittee members, as they debated and adjusted their policy recommendations on social-use facilities and delivery, a number of times also ran up against the issue of not having a foolproof test for high drivers .
Others issues included training for staff at pot cafes, compliance checks at the establishments, temporary licenses for the sale of cannabis and security and GPS tracking for potential delivery-only licenses.
The panel is one of four subcommittees that make up the Cannabis Advisory Board, a separate body from the Cannabis Control Commission, which is charged with studying issues and making recommendations to the commission on the regulation and taxation of marijuana in Massachusetts.
The next step in the process involves a full Cannabis Advisory Board meeting next week, where it will review all the recommendations, which will then be sent to the Cannabis Control Commission.