The final regulations are out. In volume, they have shrunk from 107 to 88 pages. In substance, they retain the draft’s exceedingly tight control over who may engage in the regulated industry, where they may exercise those rights, and what it will take to become and remain a participant. (The rules apply only to businesses that handle marijuana directly. The providing of goods and services to licensees or consumers that don't touch marijuana is not governed by these regulations.)
It is now confirmed that obtaining a marijuana license will require, among other things, supreme dedication to detail, organization, planning, time, sweat, frustration, diplomacy, humility, hubris, drive and a lot of money. This is not Silicon Valley. There will be no garage start-ups.
Call them “Plutonian Regs” (with a nod to Bill Downing of MassCann), as the rules evoke a comparable level of security and caution. “Against what?,” one is driven to ask, but this is not the time to go down that road.
I’m disappointed that the final regs perpetuate what I saw as systemic problems in the draft regs, and which I brought to the attention to the CCC. One was the inconsistent use of the term “establishment” throughout the regs, sometimes to mean “entity,” per the formal definition, but often to refer to the facility where the entity does business. The other is the inconsistent subcategorization of licenses, sometimes “classes” and sometimes “types.” This is more than semantic nitpicking; these are seeds of confusion and future litigation.
There's also something very odd in the regs: the term "Cannabis" is been redefined as excluding hemp, blurring a long-settled taxonomy, namely, that "cannabis" refers to the plant of the genus Cannabis, from whence is produced hemp and marijuana, the former for making things and the latter for consumption. Now, as declared by the new regulations, hemp is excepted from "Cannabis or Marijuana or marihuana," terms that are now regulatorily conflated, but for now remain botanically distinct. Curiously, the definition of hemp declares it to be of the "genus Cannabis."
Call it taxonomic trauma. Looks like an accident to me.
Back to the serious stuff.
Here's my advice to license aspirants:
Read the regs very thoroughly. If you are not part of a team that can come together to navigate these rules, stop. Find a niche in the new regulated industry that does not involve touching the plant itself. Anticipate the opportunities that the liberation of cannabis will provide as new generations of consumers emerge, especially seniors, who in my view are the most overlooked group of consumers who have the most to gain by safe access to marijuana and are in need of services and assistance. Help grandma learn to use it safely. Some say that marijuana will be the salvation of nursing homes.
If you're up to the challenge, no doubt you studied the draft regs, and you don’t need me to tell you to memorize these new ones. By now you should have identified a good location in a hospitable community and cultivated a good relationship with town officials. Watch for the CCC applications. If you are an Economic Empowerment Applicant having priority, hustle to get your complete application together as soon as possible after April 1.
I’ll write more later, after a second slog through the regs.