Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s decision to give certain local jurisdictions until June 30, 2019, to plan for a retail marijuana market could have major business effects, industry proponents say.
Jim Borghesani, who played a major role on the “Yes on 4” recreational marijuana legalization campaign, told Marijuana Business Daily on Monday that further delay could have “devastating impacts for businesses” and essentially is “rewarding the incompetence” of towns for their lack of preparation.
Healey, a Democrat who opposed the 2016 recreational MJ ballot initiative, extended the deadline for some cities and towns to ban retail marijuana operations without voter approval from Dec. 31, 2018, through June 2019, The Boston Globe reported. The decision was in conjunction with a case involving the town of Mansfield.
“Certain communities have expressed a need for some additional time to address implementation of recreational marijuana licensing, sales and facilities,” Healey spokeswoman Margaret Quackenbush wrote in a statement to MJBizDaily.
Quackenbush emphasized that “this does not mean this town (Mansfield), or any other, is necessarily going to ban retail marijuana. Nor does it mean that our office will approve all similar requests for moratorium extensions.”
She said such possible extensions would be determined on a “case-by-case basis.”
Healey’s ruling upset marijuana policy advocates who believe it ultimately could apply to many municipalities.
“This is another delay to a rollout that already has faced significant delays, allowing towns at least six more months to get their zoning together,” Borghesani said.
He added that some businesses may have to extend options on properties, “and there are all sorts of other situations where more money will be spent simply to wait.”
Massachusetts cannabis attorney Michael Cutler characterized Healey’s ruling to extend the temporary moratorium as “lawless,” because it cited no legal precedent and reversed her previous position that a moratorium extension might be unconstitutional.
“The AG can say ‘case-by-case,’ but municipalities have known since November 2016 that cannabis commerce was coming,” Cutler wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.
“To give towns more than two years to hold up the industry is to undermine the industry, and state budget planning based on healthy industry revenues. The AG can label her reaction as ‘legal,’ but it’s purely political (IMHO).”
Jeff Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org