Pot board retreats on sweeping regs
Votes to delay home delivery, pot bars for at least a year
THE COMMISSION OVERSEEING the nascent pot industry bowed to pressure from top elected leaders and put off approving home delivery and so-called “social consumption” cafes but voted to give minorities the preference for those permits when they become available.
In the first of three days of hearings at the State House to finalize regulations, the Cannabis Control Commission approved a motion by Commissioner Shaleen Title to hold off on regulating any type of delivery services or marijuana bars until October 30 and then discussing the matter over the next three months. She insisted the proposal was not a concession he board was moving too fast, as Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and others suggested, but rather an opportunity to gather data to show how the services could be integrated into a well-regulated industry.
“Whether there is any merit to the underlying arguments for the need to delay these licenses, I felt it was clear that there was a sense of fear and hesitancy and a lack of confidence in the commission,” Title said. “I am in favor of taking the time to build that trust outwardly and watch the process unfold.”
But Title, the board’s only minority member, got the commission to agree to give preferences to so-called “equity applicants” – minorities, women, veterans, and members of disadvantaged communities – when the board begins issuing those permits, a period she and Chairman Steven Hoffman suggested could be as long as five years.
Title suggested barring retail stores from operating their own delivery service at the start as well to prevent big-monied investors from taking over the market.
“This will allow us to control the market opportunities,” said Title.
Hoffman offered a “personal observation” disputing the notion that the delay was an acknowledgement that the commission was doing too much, too soon. He concurred with the motion – only Commissioner Katherine Doyle voted against delaying the licensing – but said if the commission wanted to move forward, he was confident it could get it done by the July 1 target date.
“I reject the argument that we can’t do it in time,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in this commission.”In another matter related to minorities, the board added race as a factor in determining someone’s qualifications to receive an “economic empowerment priority” consideration for licensing. Under the proposed regulation, applicants had to meet at least two of five criteria that included ownership who lived or operated a business in a disadvantaged neighborhood; a majority of employees from a disadvantaged neighborhood; a majority of employees with drug convictions who would otherwise be eligible to work in the industry; and, now, race.
Hoffman adjourned the meeting early after a personal issue arose involving one of the commissioners.