Cannabis cafes are coming to Massachusetts

BOSTON — They may come with couches, they may come with music, but cannabis clubs are coming to Massachusetts.

But we still don't know when.

"People are going to be able to sit with friends, whatever, and consume legal marijuana products," Cannabis Control Commission Charmain Steven Hoffman said at the commission's meeting on Tuesday.

First, the Cannabis Control Commission is trying to set up a pilot 'social consumption' program featuring a handful of as-yet-unnamed communities.

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"We're looking for diversity. So we're looking for different geographies, different cities and towns in terms of size and population," Hoffman said.

But the commission moved social consumption of marijuana a step closer to reality Tuesday, making tweaks and changes to a proposed regulatory framework on social-use licenses.

Later this week, the commission is expected to vote to publish the proposed regulations. Along with regulations to cover cannabis couriers. Marijuana delivery companies would be licensed to move pot from retail shops to consumers.

The Commission views these new branches of the marijuana industry -- delivery and social consumption -- as possible avenues for those who want to get into the industry, but so far haven't had the necessary capital.

The first cannabis club licenses will go to that type of entrepreneur as part of the state's cannabis equity program, an effort to help those disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

"If you've been certified by the state as coming from a disproportionately harmed community or certain other groups like microbusinesses, you'll be able to apply for one of these licenses," Commissioner Shaleen Title explained.

The commission sees cannabis delivery companies as an even more viable path for the undercapitalized to break in.

"It's very much about creating a license type that has a lower capital requirement and creating opportunities for those we're trying to help," said Hoffman.

But the commission shelved the opportunity for licensing events featuring social use of marijuana.

"Our enforcement team has indicated there are some serious challenges in terms of implementation with respect to public health public safety diversion [and] prevention of access by people under 21," Hoffman said.

Event licenses are not a dead issue, just delayed until fall.