Things might finally be underway to start getting Massachusetts’ cannabis industry up and running – but not without another unique delay. Last Tuesday, the governor signed a budget that allowed $300,000 for the initial funding to get the Cannabis Control Commission in place. Originally Deb Goldberg, who is in charge of getting the commission started, had asked for $500,000, but legislature eventually approved the $300,000 instead. Now that the budget is in place the funds have been released – but they were released to the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, rather than the Treasurer’s office where Goldberg would be able to have access to the funds.
Realizing that this will delay any further action to implement the Cannabis Control Commission, Goldberg wrote a letter to the Executive Branch of Administration and Finance on Tuesday asking that those funds be released to the proper fund so that they can begin hiring staff and obtaining an establishment, among other things that need to get done to get things off the ground.
“This funding is critical to the continued and timely implementation of (recreational marijuana). Without sufficient resources, I am concerned that the Commonwealth may not be able to meet the various extended deadlines,” Goldberg wrote in the letter.
Currently there is question among lawmakers on whether or not Goldberg will continue to oversee the commission – as was in the initiative passed by voters – or if the Cannabis Control Commission should be an independent body once it has been formed. Regardless of the eventual decision, Goldberg is the one tasked with getting the commission up and running and those funds are a necessary part of doing so.
Of course, there is also concern that there won’t be enough applicants interested in being on the commission, and that even once funding is released it could be a while before the full commission is actually in place. It is supposed to consist of three individuals, all appointed by the Treasurer, who would then report to the Treasurer in the same way that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission does.
Sarah Finlaw, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, said, “We’re going to work with the treasurer’s office and transfer the funds over to them.”
Luckily, from the statement from the Executive Office of Administration and Finance we can gather that they are not in any way planning to delay this next move to get the legal cannabis industry running. Even once the commission is in place, there is still the issue of bills being heard in legislature that would change or expand on the law passed by voters, so it will be a few months before any major progress is made. But for the time being, getting this commission in place is an important first step in the right direction.