Not only has Massachusetts legalized recreational marijuana, it wants to go further than other states by studying the drug as well.
The Legislature approved language that calls on state regulators to develop a “research agenda” that will lead to understanding of “social and economic trends of marijuana” along with impacts on health and public safety.
Data collection, expected to begin in earnest in the coming months, will be used to study the impact of legalization on “at-risk” individuals, including teenagers; young adults aged 18-25; pregnant and breastfeeding women; and residents of inner-city communities that were disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and the so-called “war on drugs.”
The research agenda also includes the “medicinal benefits” of marijuana, at a time when there is growing pressure on Congress to permit clinical testing of cannabis for possible pharmaceutical use.
The commission has so far received four applications from companies seeking to be authorized as marijuana research facilities.
Under an early draft of marijuana regulations, it was envisioned that Massachusetts could be the first U.S. state to legalize Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes where adult customers could order marijuana products and consume them on the premises.
The proposed social consumption rules were shelved, however, after objections were raised by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, among others.
The commission is expected to revisit the topic in 2019, but it seems unlikely that cannabis cafes will be opening anytime soon — if at all. Obstacles include state laws that prohibit marijuana use in smoking bars and no existing legal process for cities and towns to approve would-be cannabis cafes.