Massachusetts Cannabis Commission Agrees to Delay Some Aspects of Recreational Pot Launch

Licenses for delivery services and social consumption facilities have been postponed.

Marijuana buds on white background with jar

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The Cannabis Control Commission has voted to reduce the July roll-out of recreational marijuana and move back the timeline for home delivery services and so-called social consumption facilities, which would include things like pot cafés.

Retail shops and suppliers will still be able to open this summer as planned, but the five-member board, facing pressure from officials including Gov. Charlie Baker, decided to hold off on delivery and social consumption licensing until the fall, according to the Boston Globe. Both industry extensions are legal under Massachusetts marijuana law.

The regulations the commission agreed to delay have been consistently criticized by opponents of recreational marijuana who said the board’s plan for such a sweeping roll-out was too aggressive, according to WBUR.

The compromise is a boon for Baker, who opposed the 2016 ballot initiative to legalize recreational pot. The governor told the Globe that his office “is pleased” with the commission’s decision to slow the marijuana launch and “focus on establishing safe and responsible regulated retail sales.”

The commission now has until October 31 to decide if delivery services and businesses like pot cafés can secure licenses in Massachusetts. After authorization is granted, licenses will be available on a limited basis to microbusinesses, co-ops, equity applicants, and specific growers, according to WBUR, which describes equity applicants as “applicants that are part of the commission’s equity program designed to make the industry open to people from communities impacted by the war on drugs.”

The board voted 4-1 in favor of the compromise, though not all of the commissioners are thrilled with the decision. Kay Doyle, the only commissioner to vote against the deferments, told the Globe she was worried about oversight and compliance. Additionally, Chairman Steve Hoffman said to WBUR he was “very concerned” about the delays and he “reject(s) the argument that we can’t do it in time.”

Shaleen Title, the commissioner who proposed the deferments, said the changes, though not ideal, are ultimately a step forward for recreational marijuana legalization. “There was hesitance and lack of confidence in how the process will play out,” Title told WBUR. “It’s important for our commission to develop relationships where people feel they can trust us… so if the delay allows us to do that without hurting marginalized communities, then I think everybody wins.”