Cannabis enthusiasts in Massachusetts could soon be given the option to legally consume the plant in public in cafes and lounges, after the State Advisory Board’s public safety subcommittee voted to recommend such activities be legalized. NBC Boston reports that the measure to recommend legal social consumption spaces passed by a 5-2 vote. The same board also unanimously voted to allow legal home delivery of cannabis products.
While adult-use recreational cannabis is now legal in ten states and Washington D.C., consumption in public spaces is still off-limits, usually punishable by a fine if caught. These restrictions on cannabis consumption are often frustrating to advocates of the plant medicine, considering there are no shortages of the public consumption of tobacco and alcohol.
Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael was one of the only two parties who voted no at the committee meeting, trotting out the same antiquated prohibitionist rhetoric that we’ve seen debunked countless times. Carmichael claimed legal cannabis cafes and lounges would lead to more intoxicated drivers on the roads, which is a claim that has been proven false time and time again.
Chief Carmichael also claimed that cannabis cafes would be targets for robberies, which is a talking point we haven’t seen much of, and a curious one at that. Are liquor stores, bars and tobacco shops higher targets for robberies? It’s a bit of a surprise that Carmichael didn’t bring up increased youth cannabis usage and overconsumption, which are two other prohibitionist talking points that simply hold little to no water.
The recommendation from the public safety committee to legalize public cannabis consumption now makes its way to another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy for final consideration, which is the Cannabis Control Commission. The five-member panel oversees all of the regulations for the state of Massachusetts.
“The commission would need to reopen and amend its current regulations to allow for social consumption and delivery licenses in the commonwealth,” Maryalice Grill, the commission’s press secretary, said in a statement.
Many cannabis advocates would likely argue that it should be left up to the taxpayers whether they want legal consumption spaces, but that’s how the state currently operates. Massachusetts came close to legalizing public cannabis consumption spaces when the plant was first legalized for recreational purposes back in 2017. The state governor shot down cannabis cafes then, but now the idea is resurfacing. Will public consumption of cannabis be legal in Massachusetts? Only time will tell.