Full Legalization may usher in less anti-business rules

Come November, Mass. residents will get the chance to vote on adult-use recreational marijuana. Although legalization for medical use passed the legislature in 2013 it took another two years for the first registered marijuana dispensary (RMD) to open in Salem and just last month Boston got its first whiff of its own pot shop.

Despite medical-use legalization, doctors are still not allowed to prescribe it but can only recommend it. Once a patient finds a 420-friendly doctor and pays the required license fees to the DPH, that licensed patient must visit said doctor twice yearly to stay registered and in compliance.

For RMDs, the burden is heavier and frankly, business averse. Each and every RMD employee must be registered with the state as a dispensary worker to the costly tune of $500. A contractor or service provider is not allowed to step foot into the facility. The hope is that with full recreational legalization, the DPH will relax rules that are contrary to business.

Full legalization may usher in banks that are progressive enough to do business with RMDs and related businesses. For now, it’s strictly a cash-only business. Could your business operate successfully that way?

Voters ought to be aware how the regulatory framework built and managed by Mass DPH are the most stringent in the nation. They govern all aspects of the business, from marketing to cultivation, processing, storage, testing, tracking and packaging. Many of these rules are contrary to business and impede basic survival strategies like sales and marketing.

For example, absolutely no marketing is allowed. No logos, signs or banners announcing or promoting or even identifying the business by its legal business name can be exhibited outside the facility, on the door of the facility, or on products, vials, or packaging sold to consumers. No sight lines are allowed into the facility via window or door. Might as well operate like a prison.

On the security front, alarms have to be set at all entry points and be connected to the local police station. All security equipment must be tested once every 30 days and require a yearly security audit by a DPH-approved vendor. Video must record every corner of the grow facility, retail operations, kitchen and parking lots.

Steep licensing fees at the state level and profit kick-back concessions at the local level approximate extortion, as what’s going on in cities like Worcester, MA. Full legalization will hopefully begin the process of scrapping those draconian DPH marijuana regulations that are purely anti-business.