New Massachusetts Cannabis Regulations Go Into Effect

Image via Cannabis Control Commission

“These include the agency’s oversight of Host Community Agreements, requirements for inclusivity at the local level [and] suitability reform.”

As often happens with important but nonetheless tedious legal and legislative matters, there was not much fanfare on Friday when the Secretary of the Commonwealth promulgated adult and medical use of marijuana regulations that “aim to increase equity in Massachusetts’ legal industry,” as the Cannabis Control Commission summarized new rules which took effect Oct. 27.

It’s not that some people aren’t thrilled about the news. Among the changes, thanks to a rewriting of regulations around Host Community Agreements, cities and towns will no longer be able to take total advantage of cannabis businesses in their borders. For years, companies have complained of abuse and even extortion. If people aren’t jumping for joy on the heels of this announcement, it’s because the adjustments took several months to complete, and it will be even longer until we see how they play out in the industry. 

CCC members were made to rewrite certain sections of the law in accordance with Chapter 180 of the Acts of 2022, An Act Relative to Equity in the Cannabis Industry, which lawmakers passed last year. Commission members had until last month to finish their work so the new rules could go into effect before Nov. 9, 2023, per the legal requirement. In addition to the HCA changes, the new regulations address “requirements for inclusivity at the local level” and vendor “suitability reform.”

Commissioners also established a new Social Equity Business designation, with SEB meaning a “Marijuana Establishment comprised of at least 51% (majority) ownership of individuals who are Social Equity Program Participants, or who have been certified as meeting the Commission’s criteria for designation as an Economic Empowerment Priority Applicant, or both.”

“Commissioners and staff have worked tirelessly for months to revise our regulations—driving a transparent process and listening to feedback from diverse constituents, convening numerous public meetings, and making thoughtful changes,” Acting Chair Ava Callender Concepcion said in a statement. “I am grateful to our partners in the Legislature and in the Executive Branch for entrusting us with the authority to move the agency and industry forward and am proud of the final product.”

We followed the regulatory rewriting closely, and encourage any readers who want to go down the rabbit hole to check out our extensive coverage of the issue. You can read the updated adult-use regulations in full here, and the updated medical regs here.