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Massachusetts Approves Cannabis Cafes, Debates Home Delivery Rules

“There is a public policy need for a legal space in which to consume marijuana rather than trying to find a discreet place which can encourage arrests and loitering and other issues.”

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This week, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is debating regulations to make it easier for adults to obtain and use marijuana in the state. The commissioners' decisions on these topics will be included in a set of draft regulations that the CCC intends to release by the end of the month. Two of the more unique ideas being discussed are cannabis cafes, where adults can purchase and consume marijuana products, and options for home delivery to adult residents.

"There is a public policy need for a legal space in which to consume marijuana rather than trying to find a discreet place which can encourage arrests and loitering and other issues," Commissioner Shaleen Title explained to The Gloucester Times. "Particularly for people who may live with non-consuming roommates or family members who don't want consumption taking place at home, people with children at home that don't want to keep marijuana there, people who live in public housing, [and] people who are staying in hotels."

The commissioners unanimously voted to approve the regulations and allow these cannabis cafes to operate in the state. The regulations will require "budtenders" to work at these establishments and receive appropriate training, which will help them identify customers who are too intoxicated to be served. The new regulations will prohibit any of these cannabis clubs from also serving alcohol. The new licenses being created will also allow other businesses to serve cannabis products. For example, a massage therapist or yoga instructor could apply for a license to offer cannabis-infused oils or lotions.

Commissioner Kay Doyle recommended that the commission approve a delivery-only retail license, which would allow companies without existing storefronts to deliver pot directly to adults' homes. "I think this gives some business opportunities to those who do not want the expense associated with opening up a retail store type model, but allows them the opportunity instead to deliver in full compliance and with accordance with what I am hoping will be strict protocols for delivery," Doyle told The Gloucester Times.

The state already allows cannabis retailers with storefronts to offer home delivery, and the state Department of Public Health has already established safety protocols for deliveries, so Doyle's proposition is not too much of a stretch. Still, the CCC decided to hold off on the vote concerning this measure until after they decide on the final operational and security protocols later this week.

The CCC will be meeting every day this week to discuss further regulations concerning the state's legal cannabis industry. The commission intends to file these draft regulations with the secretary of state by December 29th. The public will have over a month to digest these regulations before public hearings are held during the first week of February. After incorporating input from the public, the CCC intends to file their final regulations on March 9th, just before the statutory deadline of March 15th.

These new regulations will be especially welcome in the state, given that many towns and cities have "opted-out" of allowing cannabis retailers in their areas. "There will be a variety of access points for adult consumers beyond the traditional package store model, so it's transformative across the board," Michael Latulippe, a member of the state's Cannabis Advisory Board, said to WBUR radio. "I think we'll be the first state in the country to offer this, so essentially we will have in place a regulated, safe, and controlled system by which to consume cannabis on site and legal businesses."

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