Outtakes from cannabis panel's draft rules

Outtakes from cannabis panel's draft rules

By Larry Parnass

The Berkshire Eagle

In draft rules published online Dec. 21, the state's Cannabis Control Commission spells out how it proposes to regulate adult use of cannabis.

Its stated mission is to "grant licenses with the goal of ensuring that the needs of the Commonwealth are met with regard to access, quality, and community safety."

The rules must be made final by March 15, after public hearings across the state.

They cover all aspects of the new business, from the licensing process itself to how growing facilities operate, how sales can be conducted, how marijuana is transported and inspected for quality and how the state will handle compliance and enforcement issues and appeals.

Here are a few noteworthy outtakes:

- While the rules would allow "social use" in public spaces, including yoga studios or movie theaters, the panel said no to smoking. It did not, however, rule out vaping, in which products are heated to the point of generating vapors, but not actually ignited. That may be clarified.

- The commission can send a "Secret Shopper" into outlets to buy cannabis for testing, then use the results in evaluating the retailer.

- Retail outlets that sell to both the medical and recreational markets must have a "physical barrier" between those types of customers.

- Priority will be given to applicants in support of an "Economic Empowerment" program. Those applications will be reviewed ahead of some others.

- Logos cannot show medical symbols or images of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia. "Colloquial references to cannabis and marijuana" are barred.

- License-holders cannot sponsor charitable or sporting events, unless 85 percent or more of participants are over age 21.

- Fees charged cultivators are set by tier, based on the square footage of area under "canopy." To expand in a later year from one tier to another, the license-holder must show that it sold over 85 percent of its product in the last six months.

- Fees for retailers are higher for brick and mortar stores ($5,000) than for delivery-only operations ($2,500).

- No vehicles can be equipped with loudspeakers to advertise cannabis products. And outlets cannot use pop-up ads online to sell products.

- In packaging edible cannabis, no single serving can contain more than 5 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive ingredient.

- Transport manifests for shipping cannabis must be kept in triplicate.

- Labels must say, in capital letters, "KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN." Products must also say: "Please Consume Responsibly." Labels must also list known health risks.

- While retailers may advertise, under some restrictions, they cannot "promote the diversion of marijuana or marijuana use in individuals under 21."

The above are all in the 107 pages of draft rules.

But this is not: The commission voted 3-2 against the idea of allowing for marijuana event licenses, for things like "weed weddings" or "pot and paint" nights.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.


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