With recreational cannabis legislation expected to go into effect next year, Massachusetts lawmakers recently finished putting together a marijuana policy board to help craft regulations for the Northeastern state's pot industry. At the surface, you might expect this to be the last progressive step towards full-scale legalization, but there seems to be a troubling pattern among the members of the new Cannabis Control Commission.
According to the Associated Press, back in November, four out of the five appointed board members voted against recreational cannabis legalization. This has raised serious concern among local advocates, many of whom are calling for reassurance that the panel won’t try to hinder implementation of the voter-approved law. On Friday, Britte McBride, Kay Doyle, and Shaleen Title joined the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission alongside Steven Hoffman and Jennifer Flanagan.
The board was selected by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, and state Treasurer Deb Goldberg. Of the five appointed commissioners, only Title (pictured above) voted in favor of the state's recreational cannabis ballot measure. Known as a strong voice in the marijuana movement, she is a founding member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, an organization that pushes for local policies that promote diversity in the pot industry.
Flanagan, a former Democratic Senator, was the first to be appointed to the board, and has expressed uncertainty about the impact legalization would have on the Bay State. After that, Goldberg named the retired business executive Hoffman to chair the commission, followed by the final three selections. None of the four members that voted against legalization have publicly expressed concrete reasoning for why they don’t support recreational marijuana.
The new state agency will be responsible for overseeing both recreational and medical marijuana regulations, including the licensing of retail pot shops, setting standards for cannabis products, and crafting security regulations.
As the future success of Massachusetts cannabis regulations rest in the hands of the Cannabis Control Commission, voters have a valid reason to question the track record of these anti-pot appointees. Whether the board satisfies the wishes of state constituents or not, they can be sure that marijuana advocates will be watching every step with a wary eye.