Editorial: Recreational pot — Go slow, take your time and think of farmers and youth
The state Cannabis Control Commission dropped into the region last week as part of its listening tour around the state to decide what, if any, changes to make to its proposed regulations governing sale of recreational marijuana.
The CCC, formed in response to a 2016 voter-backed marijuana legalization referendum, has a self-imposed deadline to have a legal cannabis market up and running in Massachusetts on July 1. The vision, which includes home delivery of cannabis, establishments — “cafes” — where users could purchase single servings of marijuana and consume it on-site, the ability for businesses like cinemas and massage parlors to also offer limited marijuana products, and more, have led to concerns by Gov. Charlie Baker and others that the commission is moving too fast into uncharted territory.
At the John W. Olver Transit Center in Greenfield last Feb. 6, Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan heard these and other concerns from, among others, a New Salem farmer, a local addiction expert, a Deerfield Planning Board chairman, and the CEO of the medical marijuana dispensary set to open in Greenfield this spring.
In its zeal to weed out undesirables in the fledgling marijuana-growing industry, the farmer said, the state has imposed such a high bar that only big businesses with well-heeled backers can afford the millions of dollars required to obtain local and state approvals, buy land, erect growing facilities and meet other requirements in order to get in on the ground floor of what could become a lucrative industry. That leaves the small farmer out in the cold.
“If you make it inaccessible to these small farmers, who are experienced growing plants in a climate like this, then you’re just welcoming large companies who have the capital to put up big and small warehouses, indoor growing facilities,” said New Salem vegetable farmer