Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Plans to Revise Regulations by the End of the Summer

During a Cannabis Control Commission (“Commission”) regulatory policy discussion on June 19th, Chairman Steven Hoffman confirmed the Commission’s plans to publish draft revised regulations within the next few weeks and to vote on final regulations by the end of August. The revisions will address numerous issues that the Commission has identified since it updated its regulations last fall, including proposing new requirements for vape products and establishing a permitting process for cannabis research projects. Likely in the second half of July and early August, the Commission will conduct a public comment period and will host public hearings through which industry representatives and other stakeholders can offer feedback on the Commission’s proposals.

Acknowledging that long-term studies are necessary to gain a better understanding of the health effects of vaping, the Commissioners expressed support in the short term for additional labeling and recordkeeping requirements for vape products. The draft regulations will likely require manufacturers to maintain and make available detailed information regarding ingredients, additives, and hardware components. Likewise, certificates of analysis and Safety Data Sheets would be required to be available to any licensee to whom a manufacturer provides vape products. Additionally, the Commission is considering requiring establishments to provide consumers with point-of-sale notice that, while vape products have been tested for vitamin E acetate (VEA), they may still be harmful to the consumer’s health.

With respect to research licenses, the Commission will borrow from structures established in Colorado and Connecticut and will propose to allow a variety of institutions, including academic institutions, hospitals, and Marijuana Establishments to apply for permits to engage in specific research projects. Institutional Review Boards will be required for every project, and the Commission is contemplating a phased approach that would first allow for plant-based research and then expand to animal and human research.

In addition to the above, the draft regulations will provide an opportunity for the public to comment on several issues related to the Commission’s Social Equity Program (SEP) and requirements regarding Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants (EEA). Commissioners expressed an interest in giving themselves the power to expand the categories of people eligible to participate in the SEP, particularly pending the results of an ongoing disproportionate impact study. The Commissioners also invited comment on the issue of what percentage of equity ownership a qualifying owner or owners should be required to maintain for a licensee to retain EEA status. Among the Commissioners, there was some support for maintaining the 51% equity ownership threshold established earlier this year, but also some support for lowering the threshold to 33%, with restrictions to ensure that the qualifying owner or owners maintain management control.

The draft regulations will also address testing, agent registration, and a variety of other topics, including many that have not been previewed during a regulatory policy discussion.

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