CANNABIS COMMISSIONER WEIGHS IN AGAIN ON HIS QUESTION 4 VOTE
By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 23, 2017.....Had he known then what he knows now, Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman might not have voted to keep marijuana use illegal for adults last year, he said Sunday.
Hoffman told Ed Harding and Janet Wu on WCVB's "On the Record" program Sunday morning that his roughly eight weeks as the state's chief marijuana regulator have shed enough light on how marijuana will be regulated that his vote might be different were the election held today.
"If I knew that the governor and the attorney general and the treasurer were going to appoint a great commission, which I think they have and I think we are confident we can get it done, so I probably would have voted differently," Hoffman, who said he voted against Question 4 because he thought the timeframe for implementation was too short, said.
In early September, Hoffman said, "I actually support the objectives of the initiative, my concern as a private citizen was that I thought the timeline was pretty short to deal with some of the complexities and public safety issues involved with implementing the law ... I find it amazingly ironic -- my concerns as a private citizen in November 2016 and I'm now part of the commission that has responsibility for addressing those concerns."
As Hoffman and the CCC begin to write regulations that will govern the legal pot industry here, he said he expects the greatest challenge to be balancing accessibility of the drug and public safety concerns.
One of those concerns is impaired driving, a topic which the CCC is legislatively mandated to coordinate with public safety agencies on. Hoffman said it is "unlikely" that the state will have a roadside chemical test for marijuana impairment by the time retail stores open in July, but said police officers are already using tests that gauge impairment generally, without testing specifically for marijuana.
Retail marijuana sales are expected to start July 1, 2018 -- "I'm confident we will have stores open on July 1, 2018," Hoffman said Sunday -- but the chairman said it is would be fair to expect that it will take about a year for the industry to ramp up.
"I'm hoping -- and this is a hope as opposed to a forecast, so please understand that distinction -- I'm hoping that when we look at this in the middle of 2019 we have a thriving industry that has accessibility to all the citizens of the state," he said.
Asked by Wu whether there is anything in the marijuana law -- which was delayed and then rewritten by the Legislature after being passed by voters -- that he would like to see the Legislature further amend or revise, Hoffman said it is too soon to know.
"I don't think that we've had enough time to really answer that question," he said. He said that based on meetings with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, he believes there's an "open door" should state officials determine that additional law changes are advisable.
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