If you’re curious as to where the $1.51 million lobbyists spent in 2017 went, it might have gone to the last ditch effort by some representatives asking for a slow roll-out. 78 legislators signed a letter to the Cannabis Control Commission that almost sounded like a compliment sandwich. They commended the difficult task they took on, called their work aggressive, and ended with concern for enough funds to begin the licensing process.
The problem is, Massachusetts will lose the revenue if they cannot include delivery only, 1 and 3 day event, social, and mixed use licenses. The state has made it fairly obvious where their priorities lie: the track record includes lowering revenue for schools while giving themselves a raise; the list of examples could go on. This will unwittingly allow RMD’s to monopolize an industry they cannot take on alone. Add to it, these places service patients and have yet to make any statement about protecting that supply in the adult use rush.
What not all legislators understand is: this industry is not new. These services and events have been going on the whole time. The sky has not fallen, yet some of the legislature is scared or paid into thinking it will. It would have already though. We are not asking for something new, we are asking to make what is already happening legal and a part of the regulated market.
The fears are inflated and take away from the bigger picture for the state of Massachusetts. Benefiting areas disproportionately impacted by prohibition and equity means low barriers of entry in the new industry. It means those who have been participating in the gray area can flip into regulation affordably. A micro-business license is less than 5,000 sq ft. That is a decent size space that with licensing, construction, normal business/operational costs, and the big chunk of change people forget about (280E taxes), can easily creep to $1 million for indoor cultivation. The middle class citizen in Mass could not come up with that change on their own let alone low income residents.
Delivery services have been running in the illicit market within gray areas for the last 5 plus years. This is revenue the state has already been losing. It would be progressive to create the licenses for these services so the state can collect revenues from said license/application fees and sales. It seems like a no-brainer, so why are members of the legislature afraid of it?
Back to the lobbying theory; RMD’s complain pricing will drop if delivery only is included, citing the surplus and price drop in Oregon. First missing point, the surplus was specific to the October 2017 outdoor harvest. Second missing point, craft cannabis in Oregon is still getting their premium price and boutique style shops are still thriving, even opening. What these places fear more is the inability to compete with quality and lower their prices.
Members of the legislature asking for a slow roll-out may seem like balance to them. A deeper look reveals the gift it is to those who have the market to themselves already. They will sell out when there is not enough product available because the state wanted to wait.
Massachusetts population in 2018 has risen beyond the 6.90 million mark and is the 3rd most densely populated state in the US. Compare that to Oregon, the 39th most densely populated state in the country. Even the end of year surplus with Oregon’s supply in Massachusetts would not be enough with the 20 or so RMD’s open. We were supposed to have 35 well before this point servicing medical patients. Nevada had over 40 places open and they ran out in the first week. There are only eight states in the country less densely populated than Nevada.
Massachusetts will have a shortage. It will be monopolized. Delivery only, event, and social/mixed use licenses must be included and must not be postponed. Once again members of the legislature have pulled out their strong hand to slap down the control. They need to sit down and let the Commission do their job and put forth regulations for Massachusetts cannabis industry.