New Bedford Likely Will Have to Wait for Its First Marijuana Café
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a café as "a usually small and informal establishment serving various refreshments (such as coffee), a barroom, a cabaret or nightclub." Nowhere does it say a place to hang out and smoke pot, but that could be a new addition in Massachusetts.
On Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate plans to consider several amendments to the 2016 law that legalized the possession and use of marijuana in the Bay State. There are 33 amendments in all. Some of the amendments could evolve into stand-alone legislation.
While the State House News Service reports many of the amendments are "technical contract tweaks," others concern "potency limits" and "advertising restrictions."
SHNS says, "The primary aims of the legislation are to put tighter restrictions and enhanced oversight on the host community agreements marijuana businesses are required to enter into with their host communities, to make grants and loans available through a new Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund to participants in the Cannabis Control Commission's social equity (SE) program or economic empowerment (EE) priority applicants, and to create a method for cities and towns to authorize the on-site cannabis consumption establishments that are already authorized under the CCC's regulations."
Marijuana consumers would visit an on-site cannabis consumption establishment or café where they would purchase weed and smoke it on the premises.
So-called "technical errors" in the law have kept marijuana cafés from becoming a reality. Once those matters are squared away, local communities would have to vote on whether to allow marijuana cafés within their borders.
Sen. John Keenan, a Democrat representing portions of Plymouth and Norfolk Counties, has filed an amendment to block local votes on the issue until a field sobriety test or a chemical test can be developed that is considered "scientifically reliable and admissible in court."
An amendment filed by Republic Sen. Bruce Tarr, who serves Essex and Middlesex Counties, would prohibit drivers from having loose or unsealed packages of marijuana in their cars in the way open containers of alcohol are prohibited.
It could be a while before New Bedford sees its first marijuana café.