MA tobacco wholesalers angling for MJ distribution monopoly

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Cigarette wholesalers in Massachusetts are lobbying state lawmakers hard for a monopoly on recreational cannabis distribution, which would likely increase the cost of doing business for marijuana growers and retailers.

According to The Boston Globe, a tobacco trade group is leading the charge, trying to persuade policymakers that the best way to go on MJ distribution is to follow in the footsteps of the state’s alcohol industry, which mandates that producers use third-party shipping companies to get product to market. And, they’re arguing, companies that already ship cigarettes and collect taxes on them are in the best position to do that.

Cannabis advocates are pushing back, saying such a mandate would equate to unnecessary regulations that would only add costs for businesses and consumers.

“The last thing this state needs is another three-tiered commerce system that gouges consumers and enriches middlemen,” Jim Borghesani, who helped run the 2016 rec campaign, told the Globe.

Paul Caron, the executive director of the tobacco trade group, has also tried to get a seat on the commission that will develop regulations for the state’s upcoming rec industry. And he’s been trying to do so since two days after the 2016 election, the Globe reported.

Massachusetts liquor store owners, meanwhile, also have been eyeing the new adult-use market.

The state’s rec industry is expected to launch in 2018.