Proponents, authors and regulators of the state’s recreational marijuana law can’t seem to get on the same page, with the result being a further delay in the approval of retail pot outlets and taxable income they’re expected to generate.
The main hang-up continues to be the execution of the agreement between the host community and aspiring marijuana retailer, which must precede any formal license decision by the Cannabis Control Commission. The law legalizing everyday pot sales allows cities and towns to adopt reasonable guidelines for these pot shops. It also lets communities assess an impact fee related to the costs they incur related to the operation of a marijuana establishment, not to exceed 3 percent of the business’s gross sales.
Apparently, many potential pot operators have become frustrated over this agreement process. They claim that many communities are demanding payments in excess of that 3 percent cap. They want the Cannabis Control Commission to rule on host agreements in dispute, in order to break the license-approval logjam.
It’s sounds like a reasonable request, since the law empowers the cannabis control board with the general supervision and sole regulatory authority over marijuana establishments.
The problem? Most cannabis commissioners don’t see it that way.
At a meeting in late August, commissioners rejected a proposal to include a review of host community agreements as part of its licensing process.
Chairman Steven Hoffman told the State House News Service that its general counsel ruled that the agency does not have explicit authority to intervene or reject an application based on the host community agreement.
Hoffman indicated he’d rather have the Legislature review and possibly rewrite the wording of the statue to eliminate any ambiguity, which he believes currently exposes the commission to lawsuits no matter how it rules on a particular host community agreement.
One of the marijuana law’s authors has a completely different take on the commission’s role. State Rep. Mark Cusack, House chair of the Marijuana Policy Committee, told the News Service that the Legislature’s intent was to have the commission ensure that host community agreements comply with the requirements of the law, including the 3 percent cap.
Given this lack of consensus, an organization representing Massachusetts marijuana growers is mulling whether to file a lawsuit that would force the Cannabis Control Commission to review the statutorily required agreements between marijuana businesses and their host towns.
This impasse leaves the Cannabis Control Commission with several possible options: Ask the Legislature to review and clarify the law; face a likely lawsuit by fed-up pot growers; or keep the status quo, which is to let the pot entrepreneurs and local communities work out their differences.
All of these choices have one thing in common — they’ll continue to delay the rollout of pot emporiums, which already is two months behind schedule.
It’s just another example of why the Legislature should have addressed this issue at the outset, rather than leaving it to a referendum orchestrated by the pro-pot lobby.
Full story is available here.