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Pot delivery in Massachusetts offers wiggle room for owners, community

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When selling marijuana became a legitimate business in Massachusetts, it was seen as a welcome opportunity for entrepreneurs.

But any industry needs to innovate and adapt if wants to grow, and the marijuana enterprise is no different.

On Monday, the Cannabis Control Commission gave the high sign to new regulations that will allow for home delivery businesses.

According to the State House News Service, the CCC’s delivery policy will create two delivery license types: a “marijuana delivery operator” that can buy products wholesale from growers and manufacturers and sell them to their own customers, and a “marijuana courier” that can charge a fee to make deliveries from CCC-licensed retailers and dispensaries.

While legalizing marijuana gives rise to many concerns, that toothpaste is out of the tube. Pot sales are here and growing.

But the benefits of marijuana home delivery licenses, which will initially be available only to social equity program participants and economic empowerment applicants, has an upside for communities.

There are those who applaud the chance at entrepreneurship, particularly for minorities disproportionately criminalized in the war on drugs, but who don’t relish the thought of a pot retailer in the neighborhood. Home delivery licenses allow for business ownership and operation without the need for a brick and mortar site.

And in the age of Amazon and Uber Eats, consumers are accustomed to the convenience of home delivery services.

If legalized weed has to be here, then at least this is a positive step for business owners and the community.

“I am thrilled. It was a huge step today in passing regulations in general; they are very consumer-oriented and patient-oriented and I think they represent a focus on what the people of Massachusetts want,” Commissioner Shaleen Title said.

But not everyone is happy.

“Since 2018, the (Commonwealth Dispensary Association) has consistently worked with the CCC to create a more equitable, profitable delivery model that could support our shared goals of creating opportunity for minority-owned entrepreneurs. However, the CCC has seemingly pushed these thoughtful deliberations to the side to pursue misguided online retailer policies that will only serve to cannibalize the legal industry by large, corporate interests at the expense of our small businesses, communities and Main Streets,” the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, which represents about 80% of existing retailers, said Monday.

The premise: Home delivery poses hefty competition to existing brick and mortar retailers.

Yes, it will. That is the nature of business. There will be competition and one will have to adapt to remain a player. It’s the same for any industry.

“If you don’t want a market to change, I think the cannabis business may not be the right business for you. Because this is absolutely an industry that is going to change, there’s a lot of room for innovation, there’s a lot of room for new licenses,” Title said. “Today, with the delivery structure that we passed, there’s a lot of opportunities to collaborate with economic empowerment and equity businesses … and create an experience that marijuana consumers want. So I think businesses that do that will be successful.”

Bottom line: While we’re not thrilled that marijuana is readily available, these new regulations offer an alternative for business owners to operate in communities that might not otherwise be amenable to pot sales on Main Street.

When selling marijuana became a legitimate business in Massachusetts, it was seen as a welcome opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Veterans Urge Mass. To Declare Marijuana Shops Essential During Coronavirus, Baker Calls It ‘Non-Starter’

BOSTON (CBS) – A group of veterans is urging Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to reconsider his decision classifying recreational marijuana shops as non-essential, thus forcing them to close during the coronavirus pandemic.

Veterans Cannabis Project took out a full-page ad in the Boston Globe on Wednesday.

“Our veteran community is mobilizing on several fronts to correct this injustice during this most critical time,” said Veterans Cannabis Project executive director Doug Distaso. “Our nation’s heroes deserve better than this. Governor Baker says that he supports our military veterans and we urge him to prove it by helping us now.”

A full-page ad in the Boston Globe urging Gov. Charlie Baker to make marijuana shops essential. (Image Credit: Veterans Cannabis Project)

During his press conference on Tuesday, Baker addressed the issue. He called it a “non-starter” and pointed out that medical marijuana facilities have been deemed essential businesses.

“There is tons of evidence that because Massachusetts is one of the few states in the northeast that’s legalized recreational marijuana, that if we make recreational marijuana available as an essential business – remember medical marijuana is available as an essential business – if we make recreational marijuana available we are going to have to deal with the fact that people are going to come here from all over the place across the northeast and create issues with us with respect to the fundamental issue we are trying to solve here, which is to stop the spread,” Baker said. “For that reason and that reason alone, it’s a non-starter for us.”

The Veteran Cannabis Project argues that veterans are often prohibited from obtaining medical marijuana cards because they do not want to jeopardize their veteran status and federal benefits.

“Disabled vets who use cannabis as a treatment option also regularly struggle to obtain the medicine they need,” Distaso wrote. “Our major concern is that our veterans will be pushed to seek treatment from unsafe products on the illicit market.”

The organization launched a website and asked veterans and supporters to contact lawmakers. A petition has received over 13,000 signatures so far.

On Tuesday, Baker extended his stay-at-home advisory, ordering non-essential businesses to remain closed through May 4.

A group of veterans is urging Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to reconsider his decision classifying recreational marijuana shops as non-essential.