State marijuana regulators have made alterations to the set of regulations that has been under development for months to allow delivery licensees to buy marijuana wholesale from cultivators and manufacturers, a change that one regulator said is key to equity in the newly-legal industry.

The way the Cannabis Control Commission had drafted its newest set of regulations, delivery licensees would have functioned essentially as couriers — sourcing marijuana and marijuana products from CCC-licensed retailers and making same-day deliveries to customers for a fee. Several prospective cannabis delivery operators told commissioners during a public hearing that the framework for delivery would not work as initially written.

During a meeting Friday to comb through bundles of outstanding policy questions, the CCC voted to allow delivery companies to source the marijuana and products they offer for delivery from CCC-licensed cultivators and product manufacturers on a wholesale basis. Delivery licenses are available exclusively to participants in the CCC’s Social Equity Program and certified economic empowerment applicants, and the commission voted Friday to increase that exclusivity period from two years to three years.

“With this change creating unprecedented exclusivity for social equity + economic empowerment businesses, Massachusetts might be back on track to be the first state with a functioning national model for equity. Very grateful to all who took the time to comment, and my colleagues,” Commissioner Shaleen Title tweeted after Friday’s meeting.

Home delivery of marijuana has long been allowed under the state’s medical marijuana program, and advocates pushed for a delivery-only license in the recreational market arguing that it will help level the playing field between large corporations and small businesses because the barriers to entry for delivery are typically far less burdensome than those for retail licenses. The CCC’s courier-only delivery model will remain an option, one with a potentially lower cost of entry, for prospective business owners.

“We got a lot of pushback saying that people found that to be less than a viable economic model,” CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman said in August of the commission’s initial plan for delivery regulations. “The trade-off, of course, in our minds is a very strong desire to try to keep the capital requirements as low as possible in this business and, of course, adding warehousing and wholesaling would significantly increase the capital requirements.”

The CCC approved a delivery license structure in the fall and made applications available in May, but has not yet licensed a delivery-only business.

Also Friday, the CCC addressed another hot topic in its proposed regulations — the threshold for the number of medical marijuana patients a single caregiver can assist. Originally, the CCC proposed affording caregivers — essentially people registered with the CCC to care for and provide cannabis to medical marijuana patients who might be unable to go to a dispensary themselves — the ability to provide care to up to 10 patients but that specific threshold was met with opposition from a major patient advocacy group.

Instead, the CCC decided Friday to allow each caregiver to care for up to five patients and to grow up to 500 square feet of marijuana for their patients. Caregivers would be able to request a waiver to care for more than five patients, but their homegrown canopy could not exceed the 500 square foot limit.

The CCC’s rewritten regulations are not yet final. Commissioners had expected to vote on the final set of regulations on Sept. 24, but the slideshow presentation from Friday’s meeting said the date for a final vote on regulations is to be determined.

(Copyright (c) 2024 State House News Service.

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