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Are cannabis cafés in Massachusetts’ future?

“When we had alcohol prohibition repealed, we didn’t say you can just drink in your home — no bars. That wouldn’t be realistic."
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Massachusetts residents may one day have a different type of establishment to relax after work than a bar where everyone knows their name.

With recreational marijuana getting legalized in the state after the November election, there’s a good chance legal cannabis cafés could one day be a reality, the Boston Globe reported.

Key word, however, is “one day,” especially considering that lawmakers delayed the opening of dispensaries in the state by six months on Dec. 15.

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While details of Massachusetts’ marijuana laws are still being hammered out, on the opposite side of the country, cannabis cafés are quite a bit closer to becoming a reality.

Retail stores with a license to sell recreational marijuana in Alaska, where the drug was legalized in 2014, could sell and serve as soon as this spring if regulations are finalized in the coming week as expected. The cafés won’t be able to serve alcohol, however.

Back in Massachusetts, some lawmakers are concerned about patrons of cannabis cafés traipsing through town or driving home high.

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Others are worried that the commercial marijuana industry could monetarily influence future referenda on the matter.

“There’s a real concern, given the amount of money the commercial marijuana industry has and has shown a willingness to spend,” said Geoffrey C. Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “Commercial marijuana interests could flood a town and city with money to influence the outcome, whereas cities and towns would be prohibited from spending any money on such a political effort.”

While there is a chance such establishments could be banned when the state’s legalization laws are finalized, they might be unavoidable.

“When we had alcohol prohibition repealed, we didn’t say you can just drink in your home — no bars. That wouldn’t be realistic,” Chris Lindsey of the national pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, said. “So we’re in a transition period where we’re headed in that direction with marijuana.”

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