Commission Hears Privacy Concerns Over Marijuana Home Delivery Cameras

Aug 15, 2019

Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman and three of the other four members of the regulatory body conduct a public listening meeting at the Western New England University School of Law.
Credit WAMC

    Massachusetts marijuana industry regulators are weighing public comments as they set rules that would allow for home delivery and the opening of so-called “cannabis cafes.”  

     Members of the Cannabis Control Commission at public hearings this week got pushback on a proposed requirement that marijuana home delivery people be outfitted with body cameras. Intended as a security measure, it has instead raised privacy concerns.

    At a public hearing Thursday in Springfield, Philip Smith of Freshly Baked Company, an infused edibles business, called body cameras “a bad idea.”

    " As a consumer, I don't want a camera coming to my door and filming me doing anything," Smith added.

    Christopher Leblanc of Twobuds, a Rockland-based company that wants to get into the marijuana home delivery business, said body cameras will not ensure the safety of delivery drivers.

    "Body cameras are designed to be front-facing and thus have limited field of view. Any would-be criminal would know, or soon found out, that all deliver agents have body cameras on them and they approach in such a way that the body camera would not catch them, thus eliminating the purpose," said Leblanc.

    As a compromise, he suggested equipping delivery vehicles with outfacing cameras.  Other security measures included in the proposed regulations for home delivery require delivery drivers to work in pairs with GPS-equipped vehicles.

    The plan to require home delivery customers to pre-register in-person at a marijuana retail store was criticized by Robert Eder, the founder of Upleaf-d, which is proposing to offer a boxed delivery of marijuana products by subscription.

   "We believe this regulation negatively impacts small businesses like ours by favoring marijuana retailers in more populous and much more easily accessable areas," said Eder.  " Cannabis-curious consumers, who would seek to use our service may be disincentivized from visiting a brick-and-mortar establishment in the first place."

         Another big change to the cannabis landscape as laid out in the proposed regulations is the creation of public places where marijuana could be legally consumed.  The social consumption rules are intended to provide access to marijuana for people who live in buildings where all smoking is prohibited.

    Meg Sanders of Canna Provisions, which has a marijuana shop in Lee and is planning to open one in Holyoke, urged the commission to not limit the social consumption pilot program to just a dozen municipalities, as proposed in the draft regulations.

    "It seems to me, the notion is anethema to the Commonwealth in general and puts the state and the commission in the position of picking winners and losers," said Sanders.  " If a municipality has the ability to govern these establishments effectively, they should be allowed to pursue this option as  the voters have approved."

    Licenses for both home delivery and social consumption sites would be reserved initially for social equity applicants – people who have marijuana arrest records or who live in communities identified by the commission as having high arrest rates when marijuana was prohibited.

    At the public hearing in Springfield, commissioners also heard pleas to give priority to small farms for licenses to cultivate marijuana.

    Lisa Gustausen said she and her husband John Moore had planned to begin growing marijuana on 15 acres of their family farm in Franklin County this spring.  But, their application for a commercial cultivation license, which was filed with the commission 11 months ago, has yet to be approved.

  "We feel the regulations have been rigged against us." said Gustausen.  " There is absolutely nothing in the statute that says big multi-state cannabis business tycoons should be given  priority with license after license in front of Massachusetts farmers, but this is what has happened since day one. John and I are begging you to fix this problem and fix it now."

   The public comment period on the draft regulations closed at 5 p.m. Thursday.

   Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman said the commissioners will read each comment that has been submitted and will reconvene during the second week in September to begin debate and then vote on the final regulations.