Grow, Gift, Repair

Municipal Guidance Article: Northampton

The board faces several challenges in getting any new regulations on the books, not least of which is a narrow window of opportunity. Recreational marijuana stores will be able to apply for licenses starting April 1, giving the board less than three months. Under state law, marijuana businesses may begin opening in July.

Further complicating the issue is the fact that little research exists to guide public health officials in crafting regulations, since marijuana has been a prohibited substance for decades, said board member Suzanne Smith.

“We don’t have any research. We have a whole lot of anecdotal experiences. It’s a real problem,” Smith said Thursday.

The growing and gifting of marijuana became legal under Massachusetts law in December 2016, but Gov. Charlie Baker and state lawmakers tinkered with the timeline for retail pot shops.

A focus of the Thursday meeting was edibles, with some board members worrying about the potency of marijuana-infused pastries and candy and whether retailers were obligated to educate consumers about dosage levels. Board member Cynthia Suopis said the public should be warned that a “gummy bear can be quite potent.”

The Cannabis Control Commission’s draft rules require that edibles be kept out of the hands of children. The products cannot resemble “a human, animal, fruit or sports equipment” and should not “have names similar to products consumed by minors.” Edibles will have to be labelled to alert consumers that they contain marijuana.