Group Pans Marijuana Delivery, Café Options

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Photo Credit: Trevor Hughes

The state’s top prosecutors are blasting a plan to license door-to-door pot deliveries and allow weed cafes as the new regulations for recreational marijuana are being rolled out.

The state’s district attorneys are siding with Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh who are questioning the direction the state’s Cannabis Control Commission has been heading.

The pot board is taking public comment on its draft 107-page rule book for regulating recreational weed and is set to create the final rules by mid-March to let businesses set up for sales beginning on July 1.

Baker, Walsh and now the DAs are pushing back on the commission’s plans, saying delivery licenses and “social consumption” areas such as pot cafes exceed the board’s mandate.

The Massachusetts District Attorneys Association sent a letter to the pot panel saying it is “jeopardizing public safety.”

“Immediately allowing marijuana in restaurants, coffee shops, theaters, spas and yoga studios is irresponsible, ill-informed and dangerous,” the letter reads. “If, at the onset, the Commission authorizes these unintended businesses, then there will be no turning back!”

Michael O’Keefe, district attorney for the Cape and Islands, said those businesses could still be allowed later, but the commission is only required to set up rules for dispensaries by July. He agreed with Baker and Walsh that anything further should wait.

“The law says you must do these things and may do these other things — we’re suggesting, let’s do the must ones first and do them well, then we can get to the may ones,” O’Keefe said. “Let’s take a walk before we run approach.”

Many marijuana advocates have pushed for delivery and social consumption as avenues that would make it easier for people with medical marijuana prescriptions to smoke and for small businesses to join a billion-dollar industry — and come out of the illicit market, according to Jim Borghesani, a pro-marijuana advocate who worked on the legalization campaign.

“I have no doubt that the commission will consider all viewpoints and make wise decisions based on the voters’ wish for a regulated, safe cannabis system,” Borghesani said. “As with any strong-demand product, what isn’t offered by the regulated market will be offered by the illicit market. That’s a truism that may not be sufficiently recognized by the DAs’ association.”

The DA group’s letter also says any recreational expansion should be delayed until the state standardizes a way to determine if a person is driving while under the influence of marijuana in the same way it can test for alcohol, O’Keefe said.

“You don’t want to have someone on the roadway that’s as high as a kite, that’s a recipe for a bad outcome,” O’Keefe said. “We have to develop some kind of a standard.”

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