CCC Delays Delivery Rules After Objections from Lawmakers
Hoffman: Draft Delivery Rules Date Back to 2018
10/27/20 3:59 PM
OCT. 27, 2020.....There will be no vote this week on the Cannabis Control Commission's latest rewrite of its regulations, including the marijuana delivery framework recently agreed to, after all.
The CCC announced Tuesday that the meeting planned for Thursday, at which regulators were to take a final vote on a suite of new regulations, has been postponed one month until Nov. 30 and that the agency will give people yet another chance to weigh in with comments on delivery plans.
The decision to delay the vote comes after a group of 19 state lawmakers had pressed the commission to "revisit your timeline to allow for additional public hearings." The CCC said in its announcement that it has scheduled a public hearing on the delivery license structure on Nov. 13 "to extend the opportunity for constituents to participate in the Cannabis Control Commission (Commission)'s regulatory drafting process."
The delay comes less than a week after the CCC voted 3-1 to adopt its new delivery policies and Chairman Steven Hoffman said the discussion among the commission made him more comfortable pressing ahead with a final vote.
"I'm more comfortable pushing forward with delivery based upon today's discussion because I do think we listened to a lot of the concerns that people had," Hoffman said last Tuesday. He added, "We've been patient here, we're not rushing into anything. We started talking about this in the fall of 2017 and in our draft regulations in the winter of 2018, we had delivery. We had a public comment period ... we got a lot of pushback and a lot of 'learn to walk before you run' and we listened to that and we deferred this for three years now."
Home delivery of marijuana has long been allowed under the state's medical marijuana program, and the CCC has been thinking about a delivery framework for almost three years. The CCC said in its announcement of the Nov. 13 hearing that it will come on the heels of "a robust 2020 regulatory schedule which included multiple public policy meetings, two public comment periods on changes to the full slate of medical- and adult-use regulatory changes and delivery policies specifically, an initial virtual public hearing, and a joint meeting held between the Commission and the Cannabis Advisory Board."
A CCC spokesperson said the Nov. 13 hearing "was scheduled in response to substantive changes to the delivery license types which were approved at the October 20 policy meeting, and seeks additional testimony from all constituents pertaining to the Marijuana Courier and Marijuana Delivery Operator Licenses that are now proposed."
The delivery policy would create two delivery license types: a "marijuana delivery operator" that could buy products wholesale from growers and manufacturers and sell them to their own customers, and a "marijuana courier" that would allow an operator to charge a fee to make deliveries from CCC-licensed retailers and dispensaries.
In a letter earlier this month, a bipartisan group of 19 state lawmakers told the CCC that they "believe that the wholesale delivery license category proposed in the draft regulations was not contemplated, nor supported, by the enabling legislation" and that "the proposed draft regulations have not had the opportunity to be sufficiently reviewed and may result in unintended consequences to our municipalities." Rep. Mark Cusack, former House chair of the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy, was among the lawmakers who signed the letter to the CCC, which also included Shrewsbury Rep. Hannah Kane, an opponent of the voter-backed recreational marijuana law.
Hoffman last week said the CCC is convinced that it has the legal authority to introduce the marijuana delivery operator license.
The CCC last week released the public feedback it received and summarized comments related to the regulations, and the documents showed a stark divide -- one portion of commenters generally proposed tweaks to what the CCC had adopted while the other portion tended to argue that what the CCC adopted is either in conflict with state law or is the result of a rushed process that left municipalities out.
Advocates of home delivery, like the Massachusetts Cannabis Association for Delivery, cheered the CCC's votes last week to reject a Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan motion to delay the implementation of delivery services until 2023 and to adopt the delivery framework. Supporters say delivery-only licenses in the recreational market will help level the playing field between large corporations and small businesses in the industry because the barriers to entry for delivery are typically less burdensome than those for retail licenses.
The CCC also intends to launch delivery with a period of exclusivity for participants in its Social Equity Program and certified economic empowerment applicants.
"Consumers want delivery, we wanted delivery for a long time, and equity and economic empowerment businesses are ready to be a significant part of this market," Commissioner Shaleen Title said last week. She added, "We as a commission have taken it very seriously since day one ... to live up to this mandate to include disproportionately harmed people in the industry and today was another significant step towards that. I'm really looking forward to it becoming reality sometime next year."
Anyone interested in speaking at the Nov. 13 public hearing has until 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 to complete the CCC's request form. The agency said the first 90 people to request an opportunity to speak will be added to the list and the remainder of people who request a chance to speak will be put on a waiting list.
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