Looks like the right to use marijuana outside of a private home legally is not going to become a reality anytime soon in Massachusetts.
However, legal sale of adult-use marijuana remains on schedule to start July 1, although rules governing the industry are still being drafted.
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission voted in late February to delay action on licensing “social consumption” establishments for recreational marijuana. The idea of creating cannabis cafes where people can go in, buy marijuana and use it right there — like a person entering a bar and ordering a beer — proved too controversial for many of the state’s leaders.
Any action on establishing cannabis cafes was put off until the fall of 2018, with a new proposal drafted by February 2019 at the earliest. The commission also delayed allowing home delivery of recreational cannabis, another controversial issue.
The Cafe Plan
The idea was to license a limited number of establishments with the right to both sell and allow the use of marijuana on their property. It would give consumers a place to enjoy marijuana outside of a private residence. Like every other state where cannabis is legal, public consumption of cannabis is currently prohibited.
The move also would have opened another avenue for entrepreneurs looking to get into the legal marijuana business.
A similar pilot project is underway in Denver. However, the Massachusetts plan went further. Massage therapists and yoga instructors also could have applied for a license to allow marijuana use in their establishments in the form of cannabidiol oils and other such non-psychoactive products.
The proposal would have limited how much cannabis a person could buy and use in one place at one time and give budtenders the right to cut off customers.
Despite the precautions in the proposal, it proved a hard sell for state law enforcement, prosecutors, the attorney general and Gov. Charlie Baker. “The pressure campaign conducted by the governor, attorney general and others proved difficult to overcome,” Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for marijuana legalization advocates, said in an email to MassLive.
Baker opposed the legalization of adult-use marijuana, which Massachusetts voters approved in November 2016. In urging a slowdown on cannabis cafes, Baker said in February that “people should crawl before they walk and walk before they run.”
Cannabis Control Commission member Shaleen Title advocated for the delay rather than rushing it though with so much opposition. She also won approval for the idea of offering an exclusive period in which licenses for home delivery and social consumption are only awarded to microbusinesses, co-ops and applicants from communities impacted by the war on drugs.
She wanted a five-year exclusive period, but the commission did not reach agreement on the length.