Pot board retreats on sweeping regs

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.

The regulations drafted by the commission called for home-delivery businesses independent of a brick-and-mortar store as well as “social consumption” cafes where people could bring and consume their own marijuana, something advocates say would be beneficial to tourists, people who live in apartments where others don’t indulge or parents who don’t want to use marijuana in front of their children. The concept of allowing these businesses would be a minimal investment requirement that would open up opportunities for people who don’t have access to large amounts of cash to stock a retail operation.

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.”

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Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

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.