MA: Inside The Cannabis Control Commission

Photo Credit: Steve Brown

Steven Hoffman, Chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, voted against 2016 ballot question to legalize recreational marijuana.

“I was a private citizen, I didn’t know that this commission existed. I certainly didn’t anticipate being in this chair. I voted against it because I was very concerned that it was a very complicated issue and the time frame to implement it was very short,” said Hoffman. “I support the objectives of the initiative in terms of eliminating or minimizing the black market, or making this accessible and safe, generating jobs and tax revenue for towns and cities around the state.”

Massachusetts is now five months away from the legalization of growing, selling, and using recreational marijuana.

Hoffman stands by his opinion that it is a short time frame, but he no longer thinks it is too short. He complimented the governor, the attorney general, and the treasury for pulling it all together.

Starting Monday, there will be 10 days of 10 public hearings around the state to go over marijuana draft regulations.

The finalized regulations will be put out on March 15.

“April 1 is the first day we can start reviewing applications. June 1 is the first day we can start accepting applications. And then July 1 — which is not a legislative mandate it is just the expectation that we have and the target that we are committed to — July 1 is the first day people can open for business,” explained Hoffman.

He added that the dates could shift if necessary but he was not predicting that.

“It’s more important to do this right than on time but right now we think we can do both,” Hoffman said.

When Keller asked him to define “ready,” he said the staff needs to be fully trained and the tracking technology needs to be ready.

Under the proposed regulations, there would be a variety of ways to buy weed, something dispensaries have openly disagreed with.

“We listen, we take everything you’re hearing from all sides under consideration. I will tell you that all of the things we decided in terms of our draft regulations, we decided in public. So people understand the debate we had, what the commissioners had to say and how we tried to make those decisions,” said Hoffman.

He added that safety was a large priority of the Commission. While creating regulations for Massachusetts, they looked at other states and alcohol regulations.

“Safe, social consumption is allowed in alcohol and we’re trying to make sure that we allow for very safe, regulated, social consumption for cannabis.”