February 5, 2018

Regulations will create progressive Massachusetts marijuana industry

Steven Hoffman is the chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

Thirteen months ago, the voters of Massachusetts approved a ballot question legalizing the recreational, adult use of marijuana in the state. Our five-member Cannabis Control Commission is developing the framework and conditions to position the commonwealth as the national leader in this new emerging industry.

This very important process sets the course and foundation to reflect the values and intentions of the voters in establishing a new regulated cannabis industry we will launch this year. All along, we have shared our thoughts and concerns through robust transparent debate striving to fulfill our role balancing between honoring the will of the voters and ensuring the public health and safety of all of our residents particularly those most vulnerable.

We used the commission's mission statement as our guide to establish an industry characterized as forward-thinking and effective in providing a safe and accessible marketplace to create jobs; tax revenues; diversity and equity in ownership and employment; education and awareness to all municipal partners; resources to provide assistance to those disproportionately impacted by previous drug enforcement laws; common sense regulations to supplant the existing illicit marijuana market, prevent diversion and use by those under 21, and invest in meaningful research on marijuana and its possible public health effects.

Since our draft regulations have been published, we have once again reached out to interested parties to get feedback and understand their concerns, including at a series of statewide public hearings beginning on Feb. 5, including a visit to Worcester at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at in the Worcester Public Library, before promulgating final regulations on March 15, 2018.

We will actively drive a public awareness campaign aimed at educating consumers of risks associated with marijuana consumption and promote responsible use through partnerships with the Department of Public Health and the Executive Office of Public Safety. Once we begin accepting applications for licenses on April 1, each applicant will be subject to a detailed approval process that will guarantee, for any license granted, the commission is highly confident the licensee has the commitment and expertise to professionally run a business delivering safe, lab-tested products to consumers while putting in place all of the necessary safeguards to ensure those products are used only by those whom the law intended. We will have a large, highly trained enforcement organization who, through regular and random inspections, is empowered to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that licensees stay in compliance.

We are treading on new ground, and as we learn more as the industry rolls out, we will make regulatory changes and request modification to the enabling legislation, as necessary, to correct any issues preventing the industry from meeting our collective objectives.

Each of us on the commission recognizes the enormous responsibility that we have to get this right. The policies we have articulated, in their entirety, will lead to an industry providing access to products the voters have approved in a safe and equitable manner.


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