Massachusetts Cannabis Regulators Approve Social-Use Policy

Sometime soon in Massachusetts, you’ll be able to walk into a cafe, ask for a marijuana product, and consume it right there without heading home first.

The state agency responsible for regulating legalized marijuana approved a policy on Monday that will allow for such establishments, so-called “cannabis cafes,” to open — where one can buy a cannabis product and then legally consume it on the premises, just like buying a drink at a bar.

Shaleen Title commissioner on the Cannabis Control Commission.

“The idea of on-site consumption is that people who are using cannabis would have a legal place to do it other than their own home,” said Shaleen Title, a commissioner on the Cannabis Control Commission.
She authored the policy, which was voted in unanimously by all five members of the commission. State law prohibits marijuana use in public, but allows the commission to license on-premises establishments. Title says establishments can provide modeling for responsible cannabis use.

“I think that with cannabis use, having been so underground as part of prohibition, it was something that had to be kept secret and as a result, there wasn’t as much opportunity for education and awareness and the sharing of information about responsible use, so that’s the part I’m excited about,” said Title.

Like bartenders in restaurants in bars, marijuana servers must be trained properly. Such training will focus on helping them identify customers who are too intoxicated to be served more. The commission also agreed that businesses licensed to serve cannabis should not be allowed to serve alcohol.

Cannabis Advisory Board Member Michael Latulippe

Cannabis proponents like Michael Latulippe are pleased with the prospect of on-premises cannabis businesses. Latulippe is a registered medical marijuana user, and a member of the state’s Cannabis Advisory Board.

“There will be a variety of access points for adult consumers beyond the traditional package store model, so it’s transformative across the board,” said Latulippe. “I think we’ll be the first state in the country to offer this, so essentially we will have in place a regulated, safe and controlled system by which to consume cannabis on site and legal businesses.”

Cannabis cafes aren’t the only types of businesses to be licensed. For example, spas will be able to apply for a license so that a massage therapist can offer cannabanoid infused lotions as part of treatment.

Public safety officials still have concerns. Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael is another member of the commission. He says it’s important regulations are put in place to prevent people from driving while under the influence of marijuana.

Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael

“My role is, as a public safety official, is to make sure that whatever those regulations are, that public health and public safety are kept at the forefront and that this is done in the safest way possible,” he said.

The Cannabis Control Commission will spend the rest of this week discussing additional policies, and will vote on draft regulations at the end of next week. Those regulations have to be finalized by mid-March, with marijuana businesses allowed to open on July 1.

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