The Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board is looking to get a jump start on regulatory overview in time for the start of the 2023 legislative session next winter.
“We’re a five year old agency. We modified regulations at the outset. We’ve also modified our regulations several times since then, the reason being is, advancing, learning and evolving,” said Shawn Collin, executive director of the Cannabis Control Commission and chair of the Cannabis Advisory Board. “As we’ve taken on new license types and as we’ve merged the medical program into the governance structure of the commission, how can we begin envisioning synergy and harmony between those two sets of regulations.”
Collins noted that despite the ongoing work the CCC has been conducting, the agency was waiting to start on a full review of the rules governing cannabis, with respect to the state legislature’s schule.
Collins explained that the state agency has been around long enough to have produced a full set of regulations and that as the market continues to age, the advisory board will have to be more specific in prescribing needed regulatory changes.
“We have the benefit right now of having a complete set of regulations,” said Collins. “There’s not some glaring absence at this point. At the same time, it’s just good healthy hygiene to take another look.”
From now until the end of summer, the commissioners and the rest of the agency will internally look at specific regulations that could potentially be created or updated.
From about October to February, the CCC would form workgroups to focus on broad topic areas for regulation and conduct public listening sessions to get feedback from cannabis operators, medical patients and customers. Finally, from February, 2023 to June of that year, the CCC would draft new regulations, vet those before the public and if approved by the legislature, figure out how implementation will look.
“We’re trying to frontload as much of this as possible with research, evaluation and certainly early consideration,” said Collins. “It’s expected to be wrapped up by about June 2023. Potentially that asterisk could be large or small depending on your perspective.”
One of the first major topics for regulatory change will likely be non-vertical integration in the medical market, which is part of the larger intent to harmonize regulations for adult use and medical cannabis.
“It is a topic that is live, ripe and on our radar,” he said.
While providing subcommittees updates, Nichole Snow, who chairs the public health subcommittee of the CAB, reported that her subcommittee had already been sending regulatory recommendations throughout the beginning of 2022, many of which could potentially slip through the legislature before the June 31 end of the formal session.
Recent recommendations include, eliminating the vertical integration requirement for medical license holders, developing education material for medical cannabis patients, making permanent the pandemic-era rule that allowed medical patients to use telehealth for their first visit when seeking a medical cannabis permit.
“I’ve been very pleased at the momentum and the pace that we’ve been going,” she said.