Jim Borghesani, the spokesman for the ballot campaign who now works with Luzier at a marijuana business consulting company, voiced similar concerns. He attributed the slow rollout to “slow-moving bureaucracy,” indifference from elected officials, as well as municipal opposition from local cities and towns.
State Sen. Patricia Jehlen, D-Somerville, co-chair of the Legislature’s Marijuana Policy Committee, said the recreational rollout has been a much more transparent process than the medical one.
“A major difference between the rollout of the recreational marijuana industry and medical marijuana is that the Legislature, in creating the CCC, required the recreational process to be public,” Jehlen said in a statement. “We know what is causing delays because the commission is required to publicly disclose and discuss what’s going on at each step of the process. We didn’t have that with medical, and therefore we don’t really know what caused those delays.”
Medical marijuana currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Health, while adult use is being overseen by the recently-formed Cannabis Control Commission. There are now plans for the medical marijuana regulatory scheme to be subsumed by the CCC by the end of this year.
Shaleen Title, who sits on the CCC, said the recreational process is progressing the way that she “would have expected.”
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“This is about what I would expect, given how highly regulated the industry is in the original law and given just how much importance there is to making sure that it’s rolled out in a way that is compliant.”
Voters in Nevada and California also passed recreational marijuana laws in November 2016, but adult-use retail shops opened in Nevada in July 2017 and in California in January.
As it stands, there are 63 adult-use locations operating in Nevada, along with 123 adult-use cultivators, 10 adult-use labs and 87 manufacturers. Five of the state’s 17 counties have at least one retail shop. The use of medical marijuana became legal in Nevada in 2001, but at that point people had to grow their own. State-licensed establishments were legalized in 2015.
“We had a really functional medical marijuana program in place with really solid regulations, so we were able to build on that,” said Stephanie Klapstein, a public information officer for the Nevada Department of Taxation, which manages marijuana regulation. “I think that’s part of our success in being able to get up and running early.”
Title said it isn’t fair to compare Massachusetts with these other states, because their markets are more widespread and they had several more medical marijuana businesses.
“I’ve been involved in that process in many other states and I would disagree that we’re further behind,” she said. “I think it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison.”