Majority of pot commissioners have used it

BOSTON — It is a question that has tripped up presidential candidates, and one that could still land employees in hot water at work: When have you last used marijuana?

For two members of the Cannabis Control Commission, which had its first meeting Monday, the answer was "college." Two others declined to say.

Steven Hoffman, chairman of the five-member commission, told reporters when asked last week that he smoked a joint and watched some fireworks on a trip to Colorado, where legal sales are already underway, in July 2016.

Commissioner Britte McBride, an attorney who has worked at the attorney general's office, and Commissioner Kay Doyle, former deputy general counsel to the Department of Public Health, both told the News Service Monday they last used marijuana in college.

Commissioner Jen Flanagan, a former state senator who focused on mental health and substance abuse issues as a lawmaker, told the News Service she was "not too inclined to answer" a question about any prior marijuana use.

"I don't really think it's relevant.

"You know, I never used heroin, and I did a lot of work in that realm, and I've gotten awards for it," Flanagan said.

Commissioner Shaleen Title, who worked on drafting the ballot question that legalized adult use of marijuana and retail pot sales, declined to answer the question.

"I think the public is concerned about our plans to implement the voters' will, not what cannabinoids are in our body, so I decline to answer that," Title told the News Service in a message.

Title is the only member of the commission who voted for legalization when it was on the ballot last year and she is a founding member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association.

Flanagan voted against the ballot question and then voted for a Senate overhaul of the ballot law that was favored by pro-pot activists. Lawmakers this summer rewrote the ballot law, raising the rate of taxation on retail sales of the drug.

The commission is tasked with writing regulations to foster a retail marijuana industry catering to non-medical customers with sales to start by next July. Legalized weed is fairly new terrain in politics and society, and marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law.

During Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, he acknowledged "experimenting" with marijuana while at Oxford University, an admission that became especially memorable because of Clinton's caveat that he "didn't inhale."

Although use of marijuana is now legal, under state law, for adults 21 and older in the privacy of their own homes, employers can still "enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the consumption of marijuana by employees."

Asked if she had any plans to try the intoxicant that she is charged with regulating, McBride said, "I don't currently have any plans to." She said, "I believe that people should be able to make their own decisions on that."

Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday praised the five people selected to lead commission, which includes his pick of Flanagan and the consensus choices of Doyle and Title.

"I think the people who've been selected all have terrific qualifications and skillsets to meet the task that's in front of them, and it's a big task," Baker told reporters Monday. He said, "My advice to them would be to find a way to just stick to the task and the work at hand."

Monday's meeting was strictly a primer for the new board on the public meeting law, which the board is required to follow. Jonathan Sclarsic, the director of open government in Attorney General Maura Healey's office, gave the commissioners a roughly hour-long overview of the statutes intended to provide transparency to decision-making by government boards.

On Tuesday, when the commission meets again, they are set to discuss the appointment of an acting or interim executive director, other needed hires, and the "required elements" for the commission's mission statement, among other topics.


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