Massachusetts Cannabis Commission Controlled By Anti-Weed Panel
Massachusetts has the 5-member board ready to run the local cannabis scene. But is the deck stacked against a fair system?
Massachusetts officials finished selecting the five people charged with running the Cannabis Control Commission. But that doesn’t exactly feel like a positive step, considering who got the jobs. Four out of five of those selected have no interest in helping cannabis legalization. They voted against it.
A stacked deck?
The CCC, or Cannabis Control Commission, will work with the Cannabis Advisory Board on regulating the Massachusetts industry. The picks for the 5-person panel team consists of Shaleen Title, the lone supporter, and advocate for minority inclusion. Title co-founded THC Staffing Group, a cannabis recruiting firm, and helped write the measure.
But the roster against includes:
- Retired Boston businessman Steven Hoffman
- Former Dem. State Senator Jennifer Flanagan
- Former Assistant State Attorney General Britte McBride
- Deputy General Counsel at the Mass. Dept. of Public Safety
All four voted against legalization. Selection of the commissioners was the joint task of Gov. Charlie Baker, Dem. Attorney General Maura Healey, and Dem. Treasurer Deb Goldberg. All three also voted against adult use in 2016. The three also appointed five members each to the CAB, whose members will guide the CCC in regulating the industry.
Massachusetts’ supporters cry foul
After hearing of the selections for the CCC, the spokesman for ‘Yes on 4’, Jim Borghesani told reporters,
The Cannabis Control Commission does not reflect the Massachusetts electorate. It would be reassuring to have statements from each of the people who voted no that they would in no way let their personal position would affect their work. That would make us feel a lot more comfortable.
Borghesani worries the Commission, stacked with members who voted against its creation in the first place, could increase delays to the rollout of the system. Already, the state sits six months behind schedule, after legislators pass a law delaying the first day of sales. Now, opening day sits in July of 2018.
Gov. Baker supported the delay, enacted to make the CCC more independent and expand the size of the panel.
Executing the duties of the commission responsibly is vital to safely laying the groundwork for this new industry in the Commonwealth.
Those Commission members, whether they voted for or against it, already have cannabis to thank. The positions pay pretty nicely. Steven Hoffman, chairman of the CCC looks to earn $160,000 a year in the new role. Flanagan scores $120,000, with the rest in a similar bracket.
East coast cannabis
Massachusetts holds the honor of first recreationally legal state on the east coast. ‘Yes on 4‘ passed by a margin of 54 to 46. In November of last year, the state passed its second pro-cannabis law. The first, its medical law, passed in 2012.
In order to consolidate differences in the laws, the six-month delay let lawmakers rewrite the two behind closed doors. Now, the laws allow:
- Up to 10 ounces at home,
- Grows of up to 12 plants at home
- Up to 1 ounce in possession or up to 5 grams concentrate.
- Underage possession <2 ounces now a civil offense requiring education classes
- Prior convictions for cannabis are sealable on criminal records
- Tax rates fixed at no more than 20%, the second lowest rate in the nation
The rules for shops intend to severely limit advertising, to markets at least 85% over 21. Edibles will also not be allowed to resemble any non-cannabis food product.