Grow, Gift, Repair

Update on Cannabis bills in the State House

Baker wasn’t the only one to put forward cannabis-related legislation around last week’s bill-filing deadline on Beacon Hill. Dozens of marijuana measures were filed by state legislators. A few highlights:

1. Host community agreements

Ask and ye shall receive! The Cannabis Control Commission recently voted to request that the Legislature grant it explicit authority over the host community agreements marijuana operators must sign with local officials before getting a state license. Well, state Senator Julian Cyr and State Rep. Sarah K. Peake have filed a bill that would do exactly that. Advocates are backing the measure, saying it would help level the playing field for smaller companies and prevent municipal shakedowns.

2. Social consumption fix 

Cyr also put forward a proposal along with state Rep. Aaron Vega that would make it easier for cities and towns to host social consumption businesses — pot cafes and the like — by giving local officials the power to allow such facilities without holding a community-wide referendum, as required under current law.

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Regular readers will recall two important pieces of context: First, the state Cannabis Control Commission has not voted on whether to issue such licenses in the first place; however, the agency is considering rolling them out in a limited “pilot group” of interested municipalities, with permits potentially reserved for smaller businesses and members of disenfranchised communities. Second, Secretary of State Bill Galvin has said that the current law requiring a referendum is unworkable, and has declined to help municipalities move forward with setting up votes. (Lawmakers who drafted the provision strongly disagree, insisting no fix is needed.)

3. Employment protections 

As promised, state Senator Jason Lewis is putting forward a bill that would ban companies from firing workers simply because they test positive for cannabis metabolites.

There are many more marijuana bills in the hopper, but those are the main ones to watch for now. Other measures we’ll keep an eye on include an effort by state Senator Nick Collins to create a dedicated fund for the commission’s equity program.