Julie Jacobson (pictured here, left, at a Local Government Advisory Commission meeting in June 2018) is the MMA’s designee on the Cannabis Advisory Board. She raised a number of issues and made recommendations from the municipal perspective. While she voted to allow for social consumption establishments, she emphasized that they should only be allowed in communities that have opted in.

The Cannabis Advisory Board’s Public Safety and Community Mitigation Subcommittee voted on Jan. 9 to recommend that the Cannabis Advisory Board support “social consumption” and delivery of marijuana products in Massachusetts.

Social consumption would be a new type of license allowing a business to sell marijuana products solely to be consumed on-site.

The subcommittee vote followed a lengthy discussion among members focused on recommendations to ensure the safe operation of these establishments. The subcommittee includes municipal officials and representatives from law enforcement and the adult-use marijuana industry.

Auburn Town Manager Julie Jacobson, the MMA’s designee on the Cannabis Advisory Board, raised a number of issues and made recommendations from the municipal perspective. While she voted to allow for social consumption establishments, she emphasized that they should only be allowed in communities that have opted in.

Cannabis Control Commissioner Britte McBride, who was in the audience during the discussion, responded that the opt-in requirement is in the statute, though a mechanism for opting in has not been laid out.

Jacobson said opting in, and having a clear mechanism to do so, is the best option for communities to ensure that social consumption establishments are properly weaved into the regulatory framework.

Jacobson said municipalities should have the option to prohibit social use establishments in mixed-use buildings because the buildings may include residences, and residents could be exposed to secondhand smoke.

The subcommittee recommended that local governments have a role in licensing and inspecting social use establishments, as well as licensing and enforcement authority over temporary licenses for events where cannabis from licensed establishments may be sold and/or consumed. The subcommittee recommended that strong consideration in licensing for temporary events be given to groups under the CCC’s equity mandate.

The subcommittee also recommended that the social use buffer zone be consistent with the adult-use cannabis law and regulations; upon petition, however, a municipality should be able to waive the buffer zone requirement if it is not at odds with the purpose behind the buffer zone.

Regarding home delivery, the subcommittee discussed who should be allowed to obtain licenses to sell and transport marijuana products. The subcommittee voted, 4-3, against requiring delivery drivers to be employees of a physical storefront, co-op or micro business. Law enforcement and municipal representatives expressed concerns about the potential for robberies of delivery services and whether delivery services could divert marijuana products to the illicit market.

The subcommittee voted to consider additional safety regulations or standards for the transport of cash, as well as standards for the type and condition of vehicles used for delivery.

The Cannabis Advisory Board is scheduled to take up the subcommittee’s recommendations, as well as recommendations from other subcommittees, in mid-February.

Written by