House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Monday proposed a fresh approach state officials could do regarding how to regulate the new legal marijuana industry in Massachusetts.
The ballot law that legalized adult use of marijuana and set up a regulatory framework for the market calls for a Cannabis Control Commission within Treasurer Deborah Goldberg’s office. The Legislature agreed to delay execution of the law and its new Marijuana Policy Committee has been considering alterations to it, including creating a more independent commission and possibly removing the panel from Treasurer Deborah Goldberg’s purview.
DeLeo said he believes the state “can do a combination of both.”
“Our conversations today were attempting to get an amalgamation, in the event that you will, without coming to any final conclusion, to try to find out what can work in relation to marijuana,” DeLeo said.
Goldberg called the meeting “a great first conversation” and said discussion covered “a lot of the technical facets.”
“I think this was merely a first conversation, and there’s an acknowledgement that we will all be working collaboratively, and with the members of the committee since they have done a large amount of work to try and determine how to satisfy the needs of and the will of the people of Massachusetts and the way in which they voted,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg has said removing marijuana supervision from her office could result in missed deadlines, and Baker said her office “knows more about this stuff than just about anybody else in the building and that should be respected as the process moves forward.”
At the state Treasury, general counsel Sarah Kim and legislative affairs official Shawn Collins have spent considerable time researching marijuana policy, according to officials. Touting her business background as well as the need for predictability for employers, Goldberg said before this spring that the Treasury has been working on marijuana-related matters for 15 months and has even talked to state building officials about potential office space for the commission.
Its regulatory panel was modeled by the marijuana after the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, an agency within the treasurer’s office. The Cannabis Control Commission would have three members, all appointed by Goldberg.
Other officials and Rosenberg have proposed that the marijuana panel could instead be modeled after the state’s Gaming Commission, which has five members with particular areas of expertise. The chair is appointed by the governor, and the attorney general and treasurer each appoint one member. The rest of the two members are appointed by consensus among the governor, attorney general and treasurer.
DeLeo said that marijuana is “distinctive in the sense that it’s not like gaming, it’s not like alcohol, thus it should get its own process.”
Lawmakers and Baker in December delayed the implementation of the majority of parts of the marijuana law by six months, shoving the earliest opening date for retail marijuana stores to July 2018 and giving Goldberg until Sept. 1 of this year to appoint commissioners.