Revisiting Gov. Healey’s Past Comments On Cannabis

“The introduction of social consumption establishments raises particular concerns about the increased potential for drivers operating under the influence”

The other day I was digging through public documents regarding cannabis in Massachusetts, looking for nothing in particular, when up popped the February 2018 testimony given by then-Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on what were at the time “proposed regulations issued by the Cannabis Control Commission regarding implementation and oversight of adult use marijuana.”

A reliable progressive on a lot of other issues, now-Gov. Healey has always brought more of a prosecutor’s perspective on pot. She says a lot of the right things when it counts, and during the election last year told reporters that her “concern [about rec weed] may have been, fortunately, unnecessary.” 

Still, she’s never really shied away from prohibitionist rhetoric either, and has also said that she does not regret her opposition to cannabis legalization in 2016. As cannabis advocate Will Luzier told Commonwealth in 2022, Healey “doesn’t get high marks from me on her position on cannabis because of her opposition [to legalization] and because I haven’t really seen anything that indicates that opinion has changed.”

There’s a lot for the new governor to do, and it’s no surprise that cannabis is hardly her top priority. But as pressure mounts for Healey to follow up on her promise to pardon all state-level simple marijuana convictions, and as calls for reform at the CCC get louder, we thought it was important to point out some of the governor’s past positions. The following is excerpted from Healey’s 2018 testimony, as obtained through a public records request by reporter Gin Dumcius:

On social consumption and how Massachusetts must follow, not lead … 

The proposed licensing of social consumption establishments—both “primary use” and “mixed use”—raises a number of public safety and policy concerns that warrant careful review and consideration. … There is a learning curve for everyone, and we suggest that Massachusetts should take it slow and learn from the experience of other states in its initial roll-out of this new industry.

On people who smoke pot being too dumb to call cabs … 

The introduction of social consumption establishments raises particular concerns about the increased potential for drivers operating under the influence of marijuana. By definition, these establishments encourage the consumption of marijuana outside the home. Indeed, they require individuals to either consume or dispose of any marijuana purchased on the premises. The Commission has acknowledged the increased risk of impaired driving presented by requiring that all social consumption licensees have a “reasonable plan” to assist patrons in obtaining transportation. However, inevitably many individuals will not avail themselves of such assistance and instead drive home after consuming marijuana.

On the horror of children potentially seeing what a plant looks like … 

The proposed licensing of mixed-use social consumption establishments raises additional complications that are not fully addressed in the current draft regulations. The sale and on-site use of marijuana within the context of a yoga studio, theater, spa, restaurant or other such business presents complex administrative, compliance and enforcement issues that need to be carefully considered. Foremost among those is preventing individuals under 21 years of age from accessing or being exposed to marijuana. 

On home delivery turning every doorstep into a trap house … 

Widespread home delivery of adult use marijuana—especially when not tied to a brick-and-mortar retail location—presents its own public safety and enforcement concerns that may be better addressed at a later stage of implementation. As a matter of enforcement, it is more difficult to ensure that employees are abiding by the rules and properly verifying the age of the consumer when transactions are scattered on doorsteps across the state, rather than at an identifiable retail establishment with security cameras and other checks in place.

In summary, while Healey’s not the worst on these issues, the governor is not the best either. She’s an extremely intelligent person, and had to have known that she was peddling prohibitionist nonsense in 2018. Whether she’s changed her positions or not, she is worth keeping a close eye on when it comes to this topic.