Massachusetts Regulators Seek Input on Regulatory Changes for Both Adult Use and Medical Marijuana

Foley Hoag LLP - Cannabis and the Law
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Foley Hoag LLP - Cannabis and the Law

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has published an ambitious regulatory update of both adult use regulations at 935 CMR 500.000, medical marijuana establishment regulations at 935 CMR 501.000, and co-located adult-use and medical-use marijuana regulations at 935 CMR 500.000.  The CCC is holding a virtual public hearing on August 3, 2020 at 10:00 AM, and accepting written comments on the regulations up through August 14, 2020 at 5:00 PM.

The draft regulations touch upon a wide array of aspects of both the licensing and operating process.  Current and soon-to-be operators will want to pay careful attention to the new operational changes and additions, as there are many.  On the licensing side, these include codification of an expedited review policy for marijuana treatment center priority applicants limiting fast-track review only to premises with an RMD location, modifications to the economic empowerment certification process that focus on ownership, and provide the CCC’s executive director the authority to approve minor changes of ownership and control (meaning a CCC vote would no longer be required), but not new equity owners, asset sales, or mergers and acquisitions.

On the operations side, the draft regulations seek to change many aspects of cultivation, manufacturing, and retailing operations.  Among the most significant changes are amendments to restrictions on advertising, branding, and marketing.  If approved, the regulations would permit branding of goods and events by marijuana establishments, subject to some restrictions.

The CCC also proposes significant changes to regulations governing labelling and sales of vaporizers, requiring significant recordkeeping and disclosure with respect to vape ingredients and components.  Still other changes cover whistleblower policies, workplace safety, waste receptacles, packaging and labelling, limited access areas, school buffer zones, disclosure requirements related to cultivation media, fire safety, collections of data related to retail sales, product samples, repackaging, product testing and – in a nod to the ongoing difficulties of COVID-19 – contactless ordering.  The draft regulations also envision creation of a CCC-maintained product database to which both manufacturers and retailers would contribute information.

With respect to co-located adult-use and medical-use marijuana operations, the CCC proposes merging most the separate regulations at 935 CMR 502.00 into existing requirements at 935 CMR 500.000 and 501.000, as there is significant overlap.

With such wide-ranging changes proposed, we expect the CCC will be solicitous of public input, and seek to refine its proposed amendments in ways that both protect consumers and streamline industry operations.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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