Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education hosted a workshop on Oct. 17 exploring how municipal counsel should navigate the multifaceted cannabis industry.

The panelists included Cannabis Control Commissioner Kay Doyle, attorney Katherine Laughman of KP Law, Cheryl Sbarra, senior staff attorney and director of policy and law at the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, and Amherst Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz.

Doyle gave an update on the latest round of adult-use marijuana regulations, which include provisions for home delivery and a social consumption pilot program, which will offer limited licenses for retail establishments where consumers can purchase and consume marijuana products on site.

Municipalities that have banned retail sales, but wish to opt into home delivery in their community, either by bylaw, ordinance or regulation, must notify the Cannabis Control Commission once they have done so, Doyle said.

Laughman discussed municipal best practices for marijuana permitting and the negotiation of host community agreements.

She highlighted a best practice on community impact fee documentation and costs, detailing how municipalities should closely document any costs imposed by the operation of a marijuana establishment in the city or town. This could be done through the creation of a tracking system, operated by one municipal employee or department as a point person. There should be one tracking file, kept indefinitely, for each establishment. These files and tracking systems are public documents, however, and municipalities should anticipate that they will receive requests.

Kravitz focused on how Amherst dealt with the implementation of the marijuana law and lessons learned. He identified four lessons: know your community; embrace the uncertainty in this evolving industry; develop a team and a process; and don’t go at it alone – reach out to other municipalities in Massachusetts and beyond.

A copy of the recorded workshop is available for purchase on the MCLE website at www.mcle.org/product/catalog/code/2200169P01.

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