Massachusetts May Get Marijuana Delivery Services

But scores of details must be worked out ahead of time.

June 27, 2019

BOSTON—Marijuana delivery services and possibly cannabis cafes are inching closer to reality in Massachusetts, reports the Boston Globe.

The state’s Cannabis Control Commission has voted to approve draft regulations that would allow both business operations in the state but with significant restrictions. The commission is expected to sign off on modest tweaks to the rules at a meeting today before kicking off a formal public comment period. Final revisions and votes to implement the policies are expected in September.

The proposed plan would require pot delivery companies and cannabis cafes to be licensed, and most licenses would be reserved for local entrepreneurs whose small businesses already hold “microbusiness” or craft cooperative licenses from the agency. Participants in the commission’s economic empowerment and social equity programs also would be eligible.

Proponents say the licensing policy will give disenfranchised entrepreneurs a realistic pathway into a heavily regulated industry that typically requires a huge initial investment and has so far been dominated by large, wealthy players.

Delivery operations should be far cheaper to start up. The biggest expense would be a vehicle equipped with lockboxes and cameras, and officials hope the exclusivity policy will steer investment to the eligible groups. Under the proposal, the delivery firms could not buy marijuana wholesale and resell it. Instead, they would essentially function as on-demand couriers, picking up prepackaged orders from brick-and-mortar pot shops, delivering them to homes, and checking the customer’s identification at the door.

To place delivery orders, customers who have no state-issued medical marijuana card would have to first visit a retail shop to “pre-verify” their age and identity. Deliveries could not be made to towns that ban marijuana shops, and each transaction would be videotaped with a body camera. Deliveries to hotels, dorms, or federally subsidized housing would be prohibited.

For now, the commission’s regulations envision only a small pilot program for cafes so regulators can collect data on the operations and improve their rules before rolling out the idea statewide.

The agency also postponed until the fall consideration of event licenses that would have allowed chefs, wedding planners, yoga teachers and concert organizers, among others, to apply for one-day marijuana licenses similar to those available for alcohol.

The cafes would allow the consumption of edibles and cannabis vaporizers in ventilated indoor areas, while smoking would only be allowed outdoors and with municipal approval. The cafés would be able to make and sell nonmarijuana-infused food. The businesses would have to present detailed safety plans on how they will avoid overserving consumers and help impaired customers get home without driving.

Proponents say the facilities would give marijuana consumers who cannot smoke at home a legal place to consume a legal product.