What should the state do to regulate marijuana cafes and home delivery? Officials tasked with helping answer that question from a public safety perspective will meet Wednesday.
Members of the Cannabis Advisory Board’s public safety subcommittee, which includes law enforcement, marijuana consumer advocates, and municipal lobbyists, will discuss their recommendations for the Cannabis Control Commission, the five-member state body responsible for enacting policies.
In 2017, the commission drafted delivery and social consumption regulations but decided last year to postpone licensing such businesses after Governor Charlie Baker and others raised concerns. At the time, the commission chose to reserve such licenses for small businesses and entrepreneurs from areas that were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. Other bigger operators would have to wait as long as five years to apply.
Commissioners have said they plan to revisit the issue early this year and will listen to the concerns of the public health and safety advisory board members.
Consuming marijuana in public is not permitted — violators could face a $100 fine. Proponents of cannabis lounges say such places would provide a legal place to use a legal substance for tourists and residents of apartments, condos, and public housing that ban marijuana use.
Critics say cannabis cafes could pose dangers of over-serving customers — particularly with edibles — and health risks for employees who inhale secondhand smoke. They also fear a potential rise in stoned drivers, especially in areas without good public transportation or reliable taxis, Ubers, and Lyfts.
Regarding delivery services, supporters say they will enhance access to cannabis for people without transportation, as well as provide job opportunities for entrepreneurs who can’t get the enormous capital needed to open most marijuana businesses. Social equity advocates say that this would go a long way to the state’s mission of promoting equity in the industry.
But some worry that delivery services could lead to marijuana ending up on the illicit market and could widen access to youths. They also think it would be hard to enforce that drivers check IDs to make sure customers are 21 or older.
The public safety meeting is at 1 p.m. at the Department of Transportation, 10 Park Plaza in Boston.
The Cannabis Control Commission will meet Thursday at 12 p.m. at the same location to discuss, among other things, its timeline to address different types of regulations.Naomi Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @NaomiMartin.