ANDOVER — Recreational marijuana and its impact on communities and the tourist trade were the focus of a luncheon Wednesday where Cannabis Control Commissioner Britte McBride spoke. 

About 60 people gathered at the DoubleTree by Hilton Boston Andover on Old River Road Wednesday at the event for members of the North of Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau. Banking regulations, seed-to-sale tracking, and security were a few of the topics discussed,.

Marijuana sales will begin as soon as July 1 in Massachusetts. Recreation marijuana has been legal in Colorado since January 2014, prompting a boom in cannabis tourism. Legal marijuana shops in Colorado posted $365 million in sales in the first quarter of 2018, up 6 percent over the previous year, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

“My hope is the discussion here can leave you a little more comfortable about what the future can hold,” McBride said. “I also hope I can correct some misinformation. It is really imperative the information people are using to make decisions is based on fact and there is an understanding of the regulative system the state has in place.”

McBride also said that the Cannabis Control Commission regulations will evolve alongside the industry in the coming years, and that the commission is closely watching what does and does not work in other jurisdictions that have legalized recreational marijuana. 

Rinus Oosthoek, a member of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, came to the luncheon specifically wondering how the state plans to address federal banking regulations. 

“The banking question is major,” Oosthoek said. “Where will money be processed from the recreational stores?”

It was a tough question for McBride to answer, as federal regulations discourage banks from working with recreational marijuana establishments. Keeping large quantities of cash in a business is dangerous, however. 

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