Marijuana regulators strike licensing compromise - Massachusetts

State regulators voted Monday to limit the roll-out of recreational marijuana sales in July, postponing licensing of home delivery services and pot lounges while allowing retail pot shops and their suppliers to open in July as scheduled.

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By Dan Adams  GLOBE STAFF  FEBRUARY 26, 2018

The Cannabis Control Commission had been under pressure to delay delivery and “social consumption” operations from Governor Charlie Baker and other political figures, law enforcement officials, and medical marijuana business interests, who had argued the nascent agency was trying to do too much at the outset and would struggle to oversee so many different types of operations.

“The administration is pleased that the commission has decided to primarily focus on establishing safe and responsible regulated retail sales as Mass. continues to implement this law,” Baker said in response to the vote.

The agency’s five commissioners, however, insisted they were not bowing to the governor, but rather they needed more time to work out rules aimed at preventing impaired driving, underage sales, and other complexities.

In voting for the delay, they simultaneously pledged to have regulations for delivery and social consumption outfits ready within a year — and, in a major concession to activists, only grant those licenses to people affected by the War on Drugs.

“I was willing to defer,” said commission chair Steve Hoffman, “but I was only personally willing to do so if we put an explicit timeline in place to address these issues, and we did. ...I thought it was a great compromise.”

Hoffman also struck back at the suggestion by Baker and others that allowing the licenses immediately would have overwhelmed his agency.

“I reject the argument that we can’t do it in time,” Hoffman said. “Had this decision gone differently and we had voted to do delivery and social consumption, I’m totally confident in the commission’s ability to process those applications and regulate those businesses after that.”

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