Officials from several Franklin County communities were given a walk through the state’s marijuana regulations by the Cannabis Control Commission Thursday.
The state regulations apply to marijuana establishments and provide municipalities with guidelines as marijuana retailers begin to arrive in the state as early as July 1.
Several municipalities in Hampshire and Franklin counties, including Amherst, Easthampton, Greenfield, Williamsburg and Whately, are now determining ordinances and bylaws to regulate recreational marijuana. Some already have them in place; others will have to do so before moratoriums expire.
State regulations include provisions on the types of permitted marijuana establishments, which include cultivators and retailers, according to Cannabis Control Commissioner Kay Doyle.
For cultivators, there are 11 tiers based on square footage with corresponding fees. The tiers range from under 5,000 square feet in tier one, to as large as 100,000 square feet in tier 11.
Groups can get into marijuana cultivation as well, with craft marijuana cultivator cooperatives being an option for residents.
In order to qualify, Doyle said at least one member must be a Massachusetts resident. Cultivator cooperatives will be able to distribute marijuana to retail locations but not directly to consumers. According to Doyle, this became an option because “farmers felt shut out” from medical cultivation opportunities.
Massachusetts residents can establish a marijuana micro-business as well, Doyle said, which must have a majority of stakeholders that are Massachusetts residents.
Regulations allow retail locations to sell to consumers 21 and older that have valid IDs. Research and testing facilities are also overseen in the regulations.
Those seeking licenses for one of the many different establishments have a number of regulations they must follow before they are allowed to sell or cultivate marijuana, according to Doyle.
Businesses will be “telling us how you’re going to form your business,” Doyle said. This process involves security measures, policies for maintaining financial records and quality control.
Pot preparation and appearance
Businesses who sell marijuana products must abide by specific state regulations, including not making the product appealing to children, Doyle said.
Regulations include not having gummy products in the shape of humans, fruit, animals or cartoon characters. Exterior packaging cannot be similar to candy packaging and labeling must clearly denote when a product contains marijuana and that it is dangerous for children.
Municipalities do have control beyond whether or not to allow recreational marijuana sales.
Municipalities can put caps in place on the number of establishments allowed within its borders and can reduce the total number to fewer than 20 percent of liquor licenses within the city or town, Doyle said.
Regulations in place from the state give a 500-foot buffer zone, where establishments cannot be placed, around kindergarten to 12th grade schools. Municipalities can reduce the buffer zone, Doyle said.
Cities and towns must enter host agreements with all establishments, Doyle said. The agreements will outline the responsibilities the businesses have with respect to the community. Provisions from agreements can affect funding for additional safety personnel, training for police and impact studies. These can last for as long as five years at a time.
Cities and towns have the option to receive a 3 percent sales tax on pot.
If regulations are not followed, penalties include cease and desist orders, sales limits, fines and suspension or revocation of licenses.