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By Colin A. Young

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, FEB. 14, 2018.....In the latest volley from the Baker administration, the Department of Public Health warned Wednesday that moving ahead at once with things like pot cafes and home delivery of marijuana will create "negative consequences to public health and safety" that will be more difficult to address than if the Cannabis Control Commission focuses on only launching the simplest forms of legal retail sales this summer.

"DPH is concerned that the Commission has chosen in its initial rulemaking to license social consumption establishments, mixed use social consumption establishments, and marijuana retail delivery services. The activities contemplated in each of these license categories raise serious health and safety issues," Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel wrote to the CCC. "As a result, the negative consequences to public health and safety that are likely to arise from gaps or oversights in any initial regulatory program may be more difficult to remedy than if the Commission were to follow the statute's immediate directive and pursue a less ambitious roll-out."

DPH is a rare case of an agency that can comment on the CCC's draft regulations with the benefit of firsthand experience; DPH has been in charge of regulating the medical marijuana program voters approved in 2012. Bharel said the agency's experience suggests that the CCC's initial regulations "are likely to meet unexpected complications even where they are thoughtfully designed and carefully executed."

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