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Social Use coming to Holyoke

“It’s very confusing as to what the process is,” said state Rep. Aaron M. Vega, D-Holyoke.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) plans to establish rules to regulate the “social consumption and delivery to consumers” of marijuana in February, according to the board’s website.

“For Holyoke it means more small businesses,” Mayor Alex B. Morse said. “On-site consumption could be with yoga studios, cannabis cafes. It could also, you know, develop an interest in people to come back to the downtown to grab a bite to eat and what-not.” 

Cities and towns that want to authorize on-site consumption of marijuana at certain businesses must follow a process to place a binding question before voters on an election ballot.

Establishments mentioned as possibilities for on-site consumption include recreational marijuana providers, coffee shops and, as Morse said, yoga studios.

On one hand, the CCC website said cities and towns have a way to get a head start on authorizing social consumption of marijuana in their communities in anticipation of the board next year establishing regulations. They can do so by following the process to post a question on the Nov. 6 state election ballot, the CCC said.

On the other hand, the CCC website said, “Please note that legislation has been filed to clarify the ballot process … and this guidance will be updated if the legislation is enacted.”

The proposed legislation says that the City Council can post on an election ballot a question that asks whether to allow marijuana “for consumption on the premises where sold” as long as a petition has been signed by at least 10 percent of the registered voters and submitted to the city clerk. The city has about 26,100 registered voters, 10 percent of which is 2,610.

This would be the wording of such a question, according to the proposed legislation:

“Shall this [city or town] allow the sale of marijuana products, as those terms are defined in G.L. c.94G, SS1, for consumption on the premises where sold?”

The city solicitor would be required to write a fair and concise summary of the question to accompany the referendum on the ballot, the proposed legislation said.

The proposal legislation is in the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives. Vega said chances were “minimal” that the Legislature would act on that proposal before the current term expires at the end of July.