BOSTON (AP) — Four of the five members of the board responsible for regulating marijuana in Massachusetts voted in November against allowing recreational use of the drug, leading supporters of legalization to call for assurances the panel would not try to slow implementation of the voter-approved law.
Britte McBride, Kay Doyle and Shaleen Title were named on Friday to the Cannabis Control Commission, joining the two previously named members, Steven Hoffman and Jennifer Flanagan. The new state agency will oversee recreational and medical marijuana, including the licensing of retail pot shops.
Hoffman, a retired business executive, will chair the board. The panel was assembled collectively by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey and Democratic state Treasurer Deb Goldberg.
Of the five commissioners, only Title supported the ballot question. Title, a leading national advocate for the inclusion of minority-owned businesses in the burgeoning cannabis industry, helped draft diversity language in the law.
“We’re looking at a contradictory board,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesman for Yes on 4, the group that led the successful ballot initiative. He noted that 56 percent of Massachusetts voters backed legalization of recreational marijuana for adults and expressed fear the commissioners would be hostile to the cannabis industry or delay implementation.
“We hope that each of the opponents makes it clear that their personal position will in no way impact their professional responsibilities,” said Borghesani.
Baker, Healey and Goldberg all opposed passage of the ballot question, but all three have promised to heed the will of voters on marijuana.
“Executing the duties of the commission responsibly is vital to safely laying the groundwork for this new industry in (Massachusetts),” Baker said in a statement.
Hoffman was named to chair the board Thursday by Goldberg. Flanagan, a former Democratic state senator, was appointed by Baker last week. McBride, who has served as an assistant state attorney general and as legal counsel to the Department of Public Safety, was appointed by Healey.
Title and Doyle, who served as legal counsel to the state’s medical marijuana program, were added to the commission by mutual agreement of the three elected state officials.
The commissioners have not spoken publicly about why they opposed recreational marijuana, though Flanagan told the Lowell Sun newspaper last year she was uncertain about the potential impacts of legalization.
Title is a founding member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, a national organization that has pushed states and local communities to adopt policies that promote diversity in an industry that, by some estimates, will generate up to $50 billion nationally in the next decade.
“I’m especially eager to help Massachusetts set a good example for other states in creating a newly legal market that champions equity, including for communities that have been targeted by past criminalization policies,” Title said in a statement.
Massachusetts is one of eight states where recreational marijuana is legal.
(Copyright (c) 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)