October 9, 2018

Social pot consumption could be limited

Photo | Matt Wright
Marijuana plants growing at Sira Naturals' Milford facility.

If state marijuana regulators decide to allow people to use marijuana in specific public places, its consumption could be limited to vaping and edibles.

The Cannabis Control Commission has the authority to license social consumption sites — things like marijuana cafes — but regulators have opted to delay that part of the industry while they study how other states and cities are handling it. A final decision is expected by early 2019.

CCC Executive Director Shawn Collins said Tuesday that because marijuana does not fit into the state's allowance for indoor smoking lounges and a new law addressing smoking in the workplace could pose challenges, "ingestion may be limited to electronic vaping and edibles.

Collins presented the commission with the results of a CCC staff study on social marijuana consumption policies around the country and world. He said that because it is not widely permitted, research on the topic is sparse.

Denver uses a "bring your own marijuana" system, in which the city licenses locations where people can vaporize or eat marijuana products they buy elsewhere. Las Vegas is considering a similar model under which it would license hookah-style lounges next to marijuana stores, he said, and some California cities allow "tasting rooms" connected to retail shops.

The CCC study of social consumption identified public safety, indoor smoking laws, social disparities, proper regulation of sales and zoning challenges as key policy issues the commission will have to consider as it weighs whether to allow social consumption establishments.

Supporters say allowing social use of marijuana gives people who cannot or do not want to use marijuana in their home a place to legally use it without using it in public, but opponents say the establishments would lead to more impaired driving and could be a venue for minors to obtain marijuana.

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