MA Announces License Application Period, RI and CT Consider Legalization, NH and ME Bills Falter
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has announced the approval of the licensing process for companies wishing to grow, sell, and distribute cannabis in the Commonwealth. Applications for Priority Certification as Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (RMD) will be accepted starting April 2nd through April 16th.
The agency's statement on the matter says the licensing process was developed “in order to ensure the safe, equitable, and effective implementation of the adult-use cannabis industry in Massachusetts.”
According to the statement, Priority Certification may be granted to RMDs that have secured final or provisional medical licenses through the Department of Public Health. Also, Economic Empowerment applicants who demonstrate experience or business practices “promoting economic empowerment in communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana enforcement,” may be awarded Priority Certification.
Certified priority applicants may begin applying for all license types authorized by the Commission on the following schedule:
May 1 - Cultivators, Craft Marijuana Cooperatives, Microbusinesses, and Independent Testing Laboratories will apply for their respective licenses.
June 1 - Marijuana Retailers, Product Manufacturers, and Transporters will be able to apply for a license.
Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Executive Director, Shawn Collins, is quoted in the statement as saying, “The Commission’s decision balances the significant progress we have made over six months with our responsibility to launch an efficient, orderly, and thorough application process in April. Our approach supports the unknown number of applicants who will be utilizing our licensing system for the first time, and staff who will be charged with certifying that establishments and agents are qualified to serve residents throughout Massachusetts. This choice will help ensure the process moves smoothly, which is in the best interests of the industry and the Commonwealth.”
Earlier this month, the Commission approved its final regulations. As outlined in the application process, licensees will be required to submit three packets of information including an application of intent. This document must demonstrate that an agreement has been reached with the community in which the applicant will do business. Also required are a background check and a management and operations profile.
More information about the program can be found on the Cannabis Control Commission’s website.
Meanwhile, South of the Border
Massachusetts’ legalization of recreational cannabis, which begins July 1 of this year, is prompting lawmakers in Rhode Island and Connecticut, the two states on Massachusetts’ southern border, to reconsider the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana, with several legislative committees looking into possible legislation, according to Rhode Island Public Radio.
The Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana is urging the state to follow in Massachusetts’ footsteps or lose millions of dollars in tax revenue. Sam Tracey, a spokesperson for the group, said, “Massachusetts, Maine, and now Vermont have moved forward with this policy and are regulating marijuana like alcohol. Very soon people are going to be able to drive over the Massachusetts border and purchase marijuana legally if they are over 21. So Connecticut, if we stay with our current course of inaction, we are losing all of the tax revenue to Massachusetts.”
In agreement with Tracey, State Representative Joshua Elliot (D) stated, “People can take a 20-minute drive across the border buy their recreational cannabis and come back to the state, no repercussions, because it’s been decriminalized here. And all that’s happening is that marijuana has been de facto legalized in Connecticut but we are losing out on the revenue.”
Elliot also feels that legalizing cannabis in the state is a social justice issue.
Legalization efforts attempted in 2016 failed in both states.
Up North, New Hampshire and Maine Bills Falter
This week in New Hampshire, a House committee is preventing a recreational marijuana bill from proceeding to the Senate. The House voted 207 to 139 in favor of the bill earlier this year.
According to a report in Herb.co, the state’s House Ways and Means Committee recommended studies on the potential impact of legalization in New Hampshire while lawmakers wait for another committee report which is expected to be completed by November 1.
According to the story, Kate Frey, a member of the commission, said, “marijuana legalization will have detrimental impacts on New Hampshire’s thriving communities.”
Supporters of the recreational marijuana bill have complained that the delays violate standard operating procedures in the New Hampshire legislature, and pointed out that the bill should have gone straight to the Senate for a vote after it was passed in January.
The bill, if passed, would legalize possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce and 5 grams of hashish for adults 21 and older in New Hampshire. It would also allow residents to grow up to six plants at home for personal use.
In neighboring Maine, the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee recently voted to send a new bill to the state’s legislature which would implement a sales and regulation system for adult-use marijuana, according to Cannabis Business Times. The bill suggests significant changes to the 2016 voter-approved initiative.
Assuming the bill passes muster with the state’s legislature, rules will likely not be written until next year’s session. Those rules would also have to be approved by the legislature. The process pushes the potential launch of recreational sales to somewhere near the end of 2019.
In January, Vermont became the first state to legalize through its legislature, although public consumption is prohibited. Now Vermont lawmakers are considering a bill which would deem the smell of marijuana a ‘public nuisance,’ which can already be ticketed in the state.
Vermont Attempts To Solve For Smell
“I feel, as a non-marijuana user, that I should not have somebody else’s use impact my life,” said Trevor Whipple, South Burlington Police Chief.
According to a story in Herb.co, some lawmakers see it as an unnecessary provision considering that the state has had legal medical marijuana since 2004, and there has yet to be a complaint. Vermont State Representative Cindy Weed stated, “We might be jumping the gun on this one a little bit. What problem are we trying to solve?”
Recreational cannabis is scheduled to become legal in Vermont in July. However, the state’s laws do not make provisions for a regulated industry. They do, however, allow residents to grow their own marijuana.