Marijuana Regulators Face Decision on ‘Cannabis Cafes’

Marijuana on a scale at Virgil Grant’s dispensary in Los Angeles, California on February 8, 2018.
Virgil Grant is riding the high on California’s cannabis legalization, with a burgeoning empire that already comprises three dispensaries, two plantations and a line of apparel. His success has come as some compensation for the six years lost inside the federal prison system for dealing the drug. / AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Veronique DUPONTFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

BOSTON (AP) — Could Massachusetts become the first U.S. state where adults can gather and use legal recreational marijuana at so-called “cannabis cafes?”

The Cannabis Control Commission, the five-member panel set up to regulate the state’s marijuana industry, is expected to decide later this month whether to approve draft regulations that would allow for the licensing of social consumption establishments.

The idea has received strong opposition from Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration and from law enforcement officials who warn of public safety and public health risks if such facilities were to open.

Baker has suggested the Commission at the very least hold off on licensing social operations until after the commercial pot industry is up and running later this year.

Some questions and answers about the controversy:

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WHAT’S MEANT BY SOCIAL CONSUMPTION?

Simply put, it would be a place (other than a private residence) where adults could gather to buy and use marijuana legally.

While the voter-approved law legalized the sale and possession of recreational marijuana, it remains illegal to use pot in public places. That’s why any social consumption sites would have to be licensed by Massachusetts and adhere to guidelines.

Under the proposed regulations, the locations could not serve alcohol and must have rules to keep marijuana away from minors. They must also have a plan for transporting intoxicated patrons home safely.

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