The newly created Cannabis Control Commission, tasked with creating a regulated, functional environment for the legal marijuana market by January 1 next year, is now in the firm control of weed opponents. In fact, opponents of marijuana outnumber supporters by four to one now, which raises some concerns for many, particularly the vast majority of people who voted to make it legal.
On Friday, Britte McBride joined the five-member Cannabis Control Commission, counsel to a State Senator, an Executive Officer of Public Safety and Security, and an experienced lawyer from the attorney general’s office. Appointed by Attorney General Maura Healey, who joins Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Governor Charlie Baker in agreement, McBride is the final member of the five-person panel.
A resident of Lynnfield, McBride joins Steve Hoffman, former partner of Bain and Company, and Jennifer Flanagan, former state senator, in last week’s CCC appointments. As with both Flanagan and Hoffman, McBride opposed Question 4, the ballot voters approved to legalize adult use of cannabis last year. The three constitutional authorities agreed previously on appointing the two other members.
Shaleen Title, co-founder of THC Staffing Group, a marijuana recruiting company, is also on the commission, as is Kay Doyle, former deputy general to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Title is a known supporter of legalization and worked closely with the Yes on 4 Coalition to create the ballot initiative approved by nearly 1.8 million voters in Massachusetts last November. She said:
“I am honored to be entrusted with implementing the will of the Commonwealth’s voters in forming a new post-prohibition approach to regulating marijuana in a way that will protect public health and safety. I am especially eager to help Massachusetts set a good example for other states in creating a new legal market that champions equity, including for communities targeted by past laws.”
According to officials, Title is a co-founder of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. She acts as trustee for Students for Sensible Drug Policy and is a board member of the Family Law and Cannabis Alliance and Marijuana Majority. Doyle, on the other hand, voted against Question 4, apparently because of concerns about the initiative, the governor’s office claims.
During her stint at the Department of Public Health, Doyle provided legal counsel for the Medical Use of Marijuana Program. She also, as an attorney for Kopelman and Paige, previously represented government and private entities in matters concerning the regulation of marijuana, land use, and civil rights.
In a statement, Doyle said, “I look forward to working with Chairman Hoffman and my fellow commissioners to implement safe and sensible regulations that protect the health and wellness of Massachusetts residents.” During the commission’s coming together, the Yes on 4 Coalition has been pushing for a “balanced” CCC with sufficient funding to do its job and avoid more licensing delays.
McBride, Healey’s personal choice for the CCC, was previously counsel within the Executive Office of Public Safety at the Massachusetts Department of Health, deputy counsel to the Massachusetts Senate, and for seven years under former Attorney General Martha Coakley, even assistant general attorney. According to Healey’s statement:
“Britte will bring vast experience to the Commission after spending more than a decade working at the intersection of law, regulatory policy, and public safety. Her knowledge and expertise in public policy, rule-writing, and government transparency will be an asset to the Commission and the state as this new industry is launched in Massachusetts.”
According to a statement by McBride, “It is important that we do this right. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and I am excited to get started.” Healey’s office made public McBride’s graduation from the Holy Cross and Suffolk University Law School. The CCC has a strict deadline to get the marijuana industry running by the start of next year. It still needs an application process to begin issuing retail licenses.
The CCC has the task of creating regulations on approximately three dozen issues by no later than March 15, 2018. It also has to start accepting licensing applications for retail, manufacturing, and cultivation activities by April 1, 2018. After deciding in December to postpone many important aspects of the ballot measure by six months, Legislature postponed the target date for licensing to June 1, 2018.
Using the Massachusetts Gaming Commission model, the Cannabis Control Commission must also set potency restrictions on all marijuana edible products, as well as draft requirements for labeling and packaging that conform to all health and safety standards drafted by Legislature. With delays hampering the start of legal recreational use, the CCC has a lot of work to do.
There is also the issue of transferring oversight of the state’s medical marijuana program from the Department of Public Health to the Cannabis Control Commission. The CCC will become the sole authority on cannabis-related laws and regulations. The two entities will have to coordinate efforts to transfer all responsibilities, personnel, and funds before the deadline of December 31, 2018.