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Candid conversation needed to address the illicit marijuana market

Sometimes a conversation should be just that. The closed-press National Cannabis Industry Association summit on the illicit marijuana market was structured to promote candid dialogue. Unfortunately, reaction to the format overshadowed the productive exchange of ideas that transpired (“Ex-commissioner says pot legalization has created confusion for police,” Metro, Feb. 21).

Organizers, including me, brought together social justice advocates, law enforcement, regulators, cannabis businesses, and tech companies. None of the participants demanded a closed forum, but moving forward with that structure allowed people to speak openly, sometimes bluntly.

Takeaways included the need for well-regulated state markets absent federal legalization; broader opportunities for people impacted by marijuana criminalization to enter the legal market; better counterfeit detection; better collaboration and education; and better data collection. Unilateral agreement was not always possible, but the conversation challenged some common beliefs and established some consensus, including the necessity of addressing vapes threatening public health and safety.


I am increasingly concerned about the deleterious effects of a media narrative that perpetuates cynicism and fosters divisiveness. It leads to public posturing and is counterproductive to finding enduring solutions. The summit format was intended to avoid that.

Though it’s unfortunate that summit organizers unaffiliated with the Cannabis Control Commission miscommunicated about the structure, I stand by its purpose and design, which allowed participants to speak freely and find shared goals. I hope those conversations continue.

Britte McBride

Britte McBride is the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s public safety appointee.