Commissioners approved a requirement that body cameras be used to film home deliveries, but voted to limit how the video footage can be used. They also voted to expand the number of municipalities in which marijuana could be delivered.
However, the commission decided to postpone a final vote on the new rules.
Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman said the commission’s legal staff needs time to draft the proposed changes, and commissioners need time to review the language before voting on final approval.
“We want to get this done as soon as possible,” Hoffman said. But, he added, “I do not want to rush. … I want the work to be done thoroughly by legal staff, and I want each of the commissioners to have a chance to digest that before we vote.”
Both home delivery and social consumption would begin on a small scale. For the first two years, licenses would be granted exclusively to a group of priority “social equity” applicants — generally people from minority groups and communities disproportionately affected by marijuana enforcement — and some categories of small, locally owned businesses. Marijuana cafes would be allowed in a dozen communities that volunteer to participate in a pilot program.
In an initial vote on some of the regulatory language, the sole opponent to licensing home delivery and social consumption was Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan.
“It’s too soon to incorporate that into our regulations,” Flanagan said. “Especially given what we’re seeing in the world of vaping, we need to take a step back and really evaluate what the social and health costs are to the commonwealth.” Flanagan was referencing a recent outbreak of lung illnesses tied to vaping.
The proposed regulations would require recreational marijuana delivery drivers to wear body cameras and record every delivery — a proposal that has raised concerns about privacy. During their discussion, commissioners agreed to require body camera footage to be stored for 30 days or until an investigation by regulators or law enforcement concludes. Commissioners and law enforcement would only be allowed to access footage that is “material to an ongoing investigation” and “specific and limited in scope.”
Draft regulations proposed by the Cannabis Control Commission would require drivers for delivery companies in the recreational market to wear body cameras and record all deliveries.
An initial draft of the regulations had limited home delivery of marijuana to the community where the delivery business was licensed and to any community that had authorized retail marijuana sales. At Thursday’s meeting, the commission voted, in a 3-1 vote with one abstention, to allow home delivery to those communities and also to any other community that opts in to allowing it through a local ordinance or bylaw.
The commission also voted to create a new type of approval called a “delivery endorsement.” While the commission plans to issue licenses to companies whose sole business is delivering marijuana on behalf of licensed retailers, this would let microbusinesses — small, locally owned growing and manufacturing businesses — get a delivery license and sell directly to consumers. The initial endorsements would be restricted to social equity businesses.
Delivery services already exist in Massachusetts, but they are operating illegally. Commissioner Britte McBride, who made the proposal to expand delivery services to microbusinesses, said, “We have the opportunity to begin to rein in the illicit market, and do so in a way that is substantive.”
The regulations will not become final until the commission votes, and they new rules are promulgated by the secretary of state. Hoffman said a vote will occur in two weeks, but the meeting has not yet been scheduled.
After the state regulations are finalized, prospective business owners will have to reach agreements with host communities and go through the state’s licensing process. Social consumption applicants have the additional hurdle of needing host communities to take a vote and opt into the pilot program. For retail stores, it took around eight months from the time the regulations were approved to the time the first store opened.
“It’s not going to happen the next day, it’s going to take some time,” Hoffman said.
The commission will begin another regulatory review process in January 2020 to make additional changes. For example, commissioners say they will consider clarifying regulations related to marketing and advertising.